Anita Ratnam facilitates a unique contemporary dance and music showcase
The art of reinvention
“Moving from one dance form to another has a lot of challenges that are not really taken into consideration. It has to be done understanding the body form and style of the dancer. Otherwise, the dancer will not be able to achieve creative satisfaction,” begins Ratnam. She brings in Kalpana Raghuraman, a choreographer, originally from Chennai but currently based in Holland, who adapts her previously staged Padme for Ratnam’s group of dancers. “Kalpana works well for us because she brings in this great music and understands the South Indian ethos perfectly, enabling the perfect bridge for the dancers. I am merely the spark plug,” Ratnam tell us.
Finding that most dancers have very few professional options once they leave the tutelage of their guru, Ratnam began this project to create spaces and opportunities for dancers to develop their creativity.
“There is plenty to do that will keep the body in shape, but a dancer also needs guidance, discipline and mental stimulation,” she explains, adding, “I sent out a nation-wide audition call over a year ago and received 29 applications. I shortlisted seven, all of them were based out of Bangalore and so I decided to train them here.” The training involved everything from dietary discipline and lifestyle changes to Taichi classes and Vipasana courses to make the group aware of the sacrifices needed to become a professional dancer. They were then introduced to Raghuraman, who reinvented her own Padme — a work that takes its inspiration from the Buddhist symbolism attached to the lotus and signifying the blossoming of the human spirit, to suit the style of these classical dancers, yet keeping the performance contemporary.
The music of Padme, composed to suit the choreography, is on a three-year license to Ratnam from the Korzo Theatre in the Netherlands, after which she hopes to launch a new project with new dancers.
“I hope to bring in corporate interest to the project wherein each entity will adopt a dancer and keep them on a payroll. They can then focus on improving their form rather than giving it up in order to make money,” says Ratnam who compares this idea to corporate sponsorship of sportspersons.
Offered as a prologue to Padme is Float, a ‘spoken word’ performance by Ratnam, accompanied by pianist Anil Srinivasan. “It draws from lyrics as varied as those by Rumi and Andal to works by Palestinian writers today. We are trying to show the multiple realities of the world we live in and more specifically, the way the old and the new constantly converge on the reality of India,” Ratnam concludes.
Entry free. August 9, 6.30pm.
At NGMA, Vasanthnagar.