Sharmila Biswas on her upcoming discussion and performance, about women dancers.
Sharmila Biswas is catching her breath when I call her. The Odissi dancer and choreographer has just finished a gruelling day of rehearsals for her new production, Antar-Yatra, which she is bringing down to the city next month. But first, she tells me, she is coming down this week to participate in a panel discussion on the life and artistic vision of women performers in India, through the ages—also the theme behind her 100-minute dance performance.
“Antar-Yatra has been one-and-a-half years in the making. It is an experimental piece that not only looks at our roots—from the apsaras of myth to the devadasis and court dancers—but also finds the common shades that unite the three dance forms of the Coromandel coast, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi,” begins the artistic director of the Odissi Vision and Movement Centre in Kolkata. Where most performances use jugalbandhi to explore different genres (like a thillana by the three dancers), Biswas wants it to be a seamless dialogue. “I am looking at the question of how an artiste creates. Abstract art brings with it a sense of not belonging, of being set free, but as women, we are also nurturers, who bring everything to us. So the evolution is different,” she explains. She hopes the discussion—with author Gowri Ramnarayan, historian Pradeep Chakravarthy and Dr VR Devika of The Aseema Trust—will throw some light on the inner journey of a woman artiste. I wonder if the audience will be able to understand the theme before watching the show (on July 16), but she says, “Look at our traditional forms like pandavani and lavani. They don’t come on stage and just dance. They always introduce what they are going to do. This will be my introduction.”
June 6, at 6.15 pm, at Apparao Galleries.
— Surya Praphulla Kumar