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Sharmila Biswas will offer a glimpse of the life of women dancers through Antar-Yatra

It’s BEEN a rather hectic month, admits Odissi danseuse Sharmila Biswas. She premiered her new dance production, Antar-Yatra in Chennai last week, and will be touring with it across six other cities, including Bengaluru till August 3. Speaking from experience, she offers a tip to destress when things get hectic — power naps. The founder of Kolkata-based Odissi Vision and Movement Center says, “The greatest lesson an artiste can learn is that ‘any time is sleep time’, even if it is just for 10 or 15 minutes. It helps to re-energise.” She also likes to explore the places she is travelling to for work, to unwind.
With Antar-Yatra, Biswas is showcasing the life of women dancers — their inner world, to be more specific. The fundraising event for the NGO, All India Movement For Seva, will unfold over recitals of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi, put together with elements of shadow puppetry and pinnal kollattam and songs sung in six languages, while shifting between real and make-believe worlds. The recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award tells us, “It’s not a jugalbandi or an encounter of three dance forms. I never wanted it to be one. I wanted these forms to join hands and talk about the inner journey of a dancer. And it’s a difficult story. What happens inside the mind of a person (conflicting thoughts and insecurities) can never be a linear narrative. You don’t know where it starts or if it has a ‘happily ever after’. It’s like having many distinct voices inside one person.”
Kuchipudi dancer Amrita Lahiri will enter the stage first, depicting the beauty of twilight, and the various colours she witnesses in that moment. Then, Bharatanatyam artiste Lakshmi Parthasarathy Athreya will establish her connection with god through temple bells. Odissi dancer Sashwati Garai Ghosh will follow next, trying to find a language to communicate her creativity to the audience. “In this piece, we are trying to show that the closer the dancer gets to her art, the closer she gets to her god. She doesn’t wish for heaven, but her ability to create her art,” says the dance guru.
It took her 18 months to complete the production, and she had been toying with the idea for even longer. The 54-year-old artiste tells us that she is looking for more challenges now. “I have never done conventional dance performances. I am always looking at ways to interpret a piece differently. But as I am growing older, I feel the need to take more risks and explore areas that dancers are normally not expected to break into.” She is referring to the use of non-linear narrative in Antar-Yatra, as well as the coming together of the three dance forms of the East Coast of India.
July 30. At Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Malleswaram. 7-9 pm. Tickets (`200 upwards) on in.explara.com

— Barkha Kumari

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