Astad Deboo bridges social divide with Tagore choreography

November 12th, 2011 - 6:25 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) Renowned contemporary dancer Astad Deboo will preview his “Interpreting Tagore”, choreographed with homeless boys from a destitute shelter, at the Indian Council For Cultural Relations (ICCR) Nov 17 before its national premiere at the National Centre For Performing Arts in Mumbai Nov 29.

The dancer is working on the choreography with eight underprivileged boys from the Salaam Balak Trust who have been training in contemporary dance for the last four years.

“They are members of the Astad Deboo Dance Company,” he said.

The 80-minute show is a new edition of a 1995 ode that Deboo paid to the poet when he was invited by the Indian Express to do so.

“I have taken three of his songs - ‘Ekla Cholo Re’…(rechristened ‘Walking Tall’), ‘Your Grace’ and ‘Every Fragment of Dust is Awakened’ to choreograph individual dance dramas in my contemporary style,” Deboo told IANS.

The dancer will use a “10 feet puppet and devi-aarti (prayer ritual) to add to the spirit of the performance”.

“The songs have been translated in English by Aruna Chakrabarty,” he said.

“I have used the indigenous Chhau, classical kathak and the dervish dance of the Sufi with contemporary dance for the show,” Deboo said.

The dancer said he has “added a new act to the show and has introduced new faces”. “Earlier, I had danced solo,” he said.

The music has been composed by Japanese and Finnish composers, he said.

The dancer said the three songs around which the dance drama has been themed, “were very resonant of his own struggles with the forces of traditionalism and the resistance to new ideas”.

The choreography is dedicated to the “devi” - the goddess.

Deboo, who was trained in Kathak, has been influenced by the world genres during extensive travel across the world.

The dancer, who is in his late 50s, blends Indian kathak traditions with those of European, American contemporary and indigenous dances for his abstract experimental language.

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