Dance lovers love August. It’s when the National Centre for the Performing Arts holds its much-anticipated August Dance Residency, hosting a different academy every year to rehearse, perform and share knowledge with audiences.
The 2014 edition hosted Guru Bipin Singh’s prestigious Manipuri Nartanalaya. Last year, the residency went to Mallika Sarabhai’s multi-disciplinary Darpana Academy of Performing Arts. This August, Aditi Mangaldas, the feisty, visionary Kathak-contemporary performer and choreographer, takes over.
This edition is additionally special. Mangaldas, who teaches only a handful of students herself, will conduct a masterclass in Kathak for senior and intermediate-level students, to help groom local talent to international standards.
She will also debut INTER_RUPTED, her latest production, which is set to tour Europe next year.
INTER_RUPTED features seven dancers including Mangaldas, and three musicians.
“It’s about disintegration, fragility, renewal, vulnerability and resilience and also about trying to hold on to what we can’t,” Mangaldas says. “Everything changes, even the body. It’s inevitable, that inevitability is what the performance is about.”
The performance includes the elements that have come to define Mangaldas’s creations: intricate choreography, percussive footwork, dizzying spins and cutting-edge sound-and-light work. And of course high-energy performances that infuse into Kathak a contemporary flair.
“I like to think there is a little rebel gene in Kathak,” says dramaturge Farooq Chaudhry, who kicks off the events with a talk about its evolution as an international dance form. “Its inherent sense of abstraction has blurred the edges of its stylistic codes and given it the freedom to morph into other forms.”
It’s also an apt medium for Mangaldas, who has sparred with traditionalists, even turning down the National Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 2012, in her bid to keep Kathak free of constriction.
“I believe in freedom, recognition of opportunity and equality – be it in dance, your caste or your nation,” she says.
“And that essence – of building bridges, not walls – is what soaks into my dance.”