ANANYA, a festival of Indian dances, was held in Delhi from October 3 to 7, which brought the vibrancy of contemporary creativity in the Indian dance tradition. Drawn from different styles, the dancers explored new vistas in response to contemporary times. The festival was held at the picturesque Purana Quila. Astad Deboo, the internationally acclaimed dancer from Mumbai, presented a programme titled Rhythm Divine, a blending of avant-garde with the traditional. Daboo and his group of eight Manipuri dancers, through music and dance, reached a crescendo in creativity. The presentations were a collaboration born from Astad Deboo’s long association with Manipur, where he met Guru Melhoubam Seityaban Singh and his troupe of traditional Pung Cholam drummers. The rituals on stage captured the Manipuri idyll of a world that was. Incidentally, Rhythm Divine believes – “dance is a system of ideas, not a method. Along with music, dance can enrich the moral, material and intellectual. And together, they can unveil for us possibilities of newer beginnings”.
In the programme, Astad Deboo used unique techniques such as the Manipuri martial art Thang-ta to narrate his vision of the world. Astad has used in his dance theatre actors and had them dancing. He had woven his choreography in such a way that each actor was able to become more comfortable with the dance. According to the dancer, “Dance Theatre requires patience, passion and persistence to choreograph, collaborate and constantly produce works”. Mentionably, Astad Deboo has combined dance cultures of the world with his own traditions to pioneer modern dance in India. His journey as a dancer began with Kathak. Trained in Kathakali dance, too, Astad Deboo has been performing with innovative dances across the world, specially America, over thirty years. His work has attracted critical attention. His performance with Pung Cholam drummers of Manipur, has been described as poetry in movement.
Incidentally, Astad Deboo could draw the attention of the dance team from Pina Bausch’s Wuppertel Dance Company (Germany), as well as Alison Chase of the Pilabas Dance Company of the USA. He was also commissioned to create a dance for the legendary Maya Plisetsuya, prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet Company. Padmashree Astad Deboo is also a Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee.
The performers in Rhythm Divine included Astad Deboo, Ibongu Singh, Santosh Singh, Nelachandra Singh, Ranbir Singh, Sanasan Singh, Shanti Kumar, Dharmendra Singh and Pung Cholam drummers of Shri Shri Govinda Nat Sankirtan of Manipur. The music was scored by Dauri Upshan Yolchira Yashikawa and Manipuri drummers. The costumes were designed by Archana Shah, Hiloo Mehta, Seityaban Singh, while lighting was designed by Sunil Sanbag and Ratan J Bathoi.
The other programmes in the festival included Odissi by the Madhavi Mudgal group, Kathak by Manisa and the Moumala Nayak group, Mohiniattam by Gopika Verma and group and Bharatnatyam by Rema Srikant and her troupe.
Apurba Kumar Das