Astad Deboo brings Interpreting Tagore, a contemporary dance performance with former street children
Featuring kathak, chhau, puppetry, Sufi whirling and some yoga, Astad Debooa��s celebrated Interpreting Tagore shouldna��t be missed. After all, this is the man who once collaborated with Pink Floyd and is now just as productive with both the Tang Ta dancers of Manipur and street children.
A pioneer in contemporary dance in India, Debooa��s unique dance style defines him. As for the Padma Shri award winnera��s popular creation, Interpreting Tagore, which comes to The Music Academy on February 19, he says, a�?This performance is a tribute to Tagore. My dance company is working with street children from Salaam Baalak, an NGO in Delhi. I have been mentoring them and they all belong to the age group of 18 to 30. There are eight of them, then there is myself and (poet) Akash Khurana.a��a�� Incidentally, there was a solo version of Interpreting Tagore that was designed by Deboo for 150 years of Tagore celebrationsA� in the 90s . a�? I havena��t performed the solo version after I collaborated with the kids,a�?says Deboo. This is the productiona��s first time in Chennai, after successful runs inA� places like Mexico, Colombia, Spain and Andorra.
Talking about the contemporary dance scene in India, Deboo is of the opinion that the term is used blasphemously. a�?There are very few people who have a lot of substance in what they create. Most of them create something which in a way is contemporary but is not solid. There are several dancers who take classes around the country but I identify Attakalari (Bangalore) as one school that has diploma courses for students,a�? says Deboo, who next focuses on the small audience that comes to see contemporary shows. a�?It was a struggle pulling the audience to shows when I started. It still is in a lot of ways, as I am producing all my shows but I do not have the finances to have ads for them,a�? explains the dancer who has been performing for the past 45 years.
Theatre comes first
According to Deboo, 66, it is his passion thatA� keeps him going. a�?As an artiste there is an idea always brewing in your head. You just need to recognise it and work on it when it is time,a�? he says, pointing out that theatre rules the scene in India. a�?a�?People are still skeptical about dance. But the situation has improved since 1978, which was when I started,a�? he concludes.
At The Music Academy on February 17, from 7 pm onwards. Tickets are priced from Rs 200 onwards. Details: eventjini.com
– Mrinalini Sundar