Prayaag 2021 to find out if classical dance works without an audience


Corona and social distancing also mean giving up socio-cultural ties? “No”, says famous dance guru Odissi and exhibitor Shubhada Varadkar who presents his film – a 30-minute documentary on the theme “Dance in the Times of the Crown”, with German flamenco exhibitor Catarina Mora in the frame of the 2021 Prayaag Dance Festival. The film – named after the Indian historic place where two of its iconic rivers meet in a confluence to mark the meeting of two schools of thought – will be presented with a host of Indian classical dancers in a specially organized festival presented in collaboration with ICCR.

“We want to make visible what happens to a dancer who does not have a stage or a studio and we want to show that dance cannot die because dance is an omniscient art for those who dance”, explains Varadkar who adds: “While the dance itself brings together power, breath and beauty, it can also unite the wordless world, just through pure aesthetics and expressions.

Mora talks about how the lockdown has helped performers introspect and dig deep to unlock what has been distilled over years of experience. “Ultimately, it has become the time to reflect on whether dance as an articulate expression can go beyond tours, performances, masterclasses, lec-dems, presentations and of arts education, “she says and Varadkaar adds:” At the end of the day every artist needs to organically connect with what they are performing. Without this, the very essence of art, especially the performing arts, will die.

Can performing artists do it without the reaction and appreciation of a live audience? A model for this could emerge with Prayaag 2021.

Over the past four weeks, dancers Varadkar and Mora (in Mumbai and Stuttgart respectively) have gone with a trio of dancers each to their towns and filmed them dancing in different locations. Each dancer had the opportunity to speak personally for approximately three minutes. Short texts in their own language and in English, make a statement about the times in which we live without stages, theaters and dance studios. “The decisive message that emerges from the editing of the different films is the understanding of borders through dance, which has not suffered any withdrawal in its beauty and expressiveness, which continues to exist and has become the elixir of life of many artists, ”says Mora.

The documentary which will be shown at Stuttgart’s ‘Weinfest’ meets Mumbai 2021 will have its Indian premiere on Monday and will be part of a special three-day virtual celebration of dance where the two dance gurus will be in discussion with noted Kathak Piyush Raj on the new challenges facing the performing arts world in general and the dance world in particular.

While Atrarayee Chowdhury (Odissi), Shweta Venkatesh (Bharatanatyam), Guru Keka Sinha (Kathak) will perform on the first day of the festival on Friday, the 12the from March, the next day, Mitali Varadkar and Shreya Sabharwal will meet as a duo (Odissi), followed by Meenu Thakur (Kuchipudi) and Guru Lata Surendran (Bharatanatyam). The last day of the festival 13e Mars Kankana Bhattacharya (Kathak) will take the stage first followed by Snigdha Menon (Bharatnatyam). The festival finale will see dance-guru Shubhada Varadkar (Odissi) herself take the stage.

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Posted on: Friday March 12, 2021 5:11 PM IST

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