Paris-based Indian dancer brings ballet, Bharatnatyam, Kathak togetherDecember 13th, 2009 - 4:46 pm ICT by IANS
By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) Paris-based Indian dancer Rukmini Chatterjee, who is bringing together European classical ballet, Bharatnatyam and Kathak for the Bonjour Festival here, says she is not in favour of fusing dance forms and each style should retain its identity on stage.
The Bharatanatyam exponent also reveals that her next choreography, set to premiere in Paris in March 2010, is inspired by Hindu goddess Kali and explores the aggressive feminine force.
Her performance in the capital Monday is titled “Meetings Rencontre” and will feature European classical ballet, European classical music, Bharatnatyam, Kathak and Indian traditional music.
“The ensemble will comprise one Bharatnatyam dancer, three Kathak dancers, three Indian musicians and three European ballet dancers. ‘Meetings Rencontre’ is a mix of mystical aspects of the Indian, French and the Sufi - three of the most widely-accepted cultures globally,” Chatterjee told IANS in an interview.
The Bonjour Festival, inaugurated Dec 1, is a two-month showcase of Indian and French cultures, literature, science and trade in India as part of a bilateral initiative by the two nations. It will close Jan 31, 2010. Chatterjee’s recital Monday is to be held in the capital’s Kamani Auditorium.
The dancer, well known on the global dance circuit, prefers diverse cultures coming together on stage but retaining their individual identities as compared to a fusion.
“It is easier for two diverse dance forms from across two continents to meet on a common ground than fuse together to form a new fusion genre,” she said.
“I feel the fusion of two dances is a long-drawn affair. Two diverse dance genres take years to blend… and give birth to a new fusion form. It is much easier for two diverse dance forms to meet on stage, centred around a common theme. They can co-exist. Fusion takes away from the originality and identity of a particular form,” explained Chatterjee, who has trained under danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai for 20 years in Ahmedabad,
The dancer, who has been living in Paris since 1990, said ‘Meetings Rencontre’ retains the individuality of each style.
“This dialogue establishes itself while respecting the identities, histories and aesthetics of each style. What interests me is exploring and bringing forth the other side, which emerges from the meeting of all these artistic styles that is universal in nature and goes beyond the generic traditions,” she said.
She has been performing and adding to ‘Meetings Rencontre’ for the past seven years.
Chatterjee, who shuttles between Kolkata, Delhi and Paris, is currently working on a new choreography “Energy of Kali”, an exploration of the dark female force or ’shakti’ worshipped in eastern India in the form of goddess kali.
“I drew my inspiration from Kolkata where a part of my family has long been associated with the Kalighat temple… I was thinking a lot about the darker and aggressive feminine forces represented by the goddess and decided to choreograph a show. It is woven around ‘Hung’ (the first two of three sacred chants ‘Hung Hung Ring’) - the ‘beej (core) mantra’ of goddess kali,” she said.
The dance-drama, which is to be premiered in Paris in March 2010, features Chatterjee and French actress Valerie Dreville.
“The musical score is a blend of black metal and mridangam,” Chatterjee said.
The choreographer-dancer has been travelling for two years to put together the show. “I visited Kalighat in Kolkata and the Kamakhya temple in Assam to learn about the Indian dark goddesses,” she said.
She, however, feels that “the popularity and the essence of Indian classical dances have been on the wane over the last decade with children opting for easier contemporary dances”.
“Classical dances - both Indian and European - are extremely difficult to master, whereas contemporary dances, like the ones made popular by Bollywood and western pop cultures, are easy to pick up. It has alienated the youth from classical dance forms,” Chatterjee said.
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