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    The second edition of  Danse Dialogue sees a unique performance by David Rolland, Preethi Athreya and Padmini Chettur

    Stranger in Paradise finds its roots in baroque dance, which is popularly hailed as the first form of classical ballet. In this, 10 dancers step on to five intrically patterned cotton canvases, spread on the stage like a carpet. In its second edition, Danse Dialogues 2014, organised by Alliance Française, presents Stranger in Indian Paradise, a total of five sequences choreographed by Padmini Chettur, (her canvas is based on a Kolam design), Preethi Athreya (she dances to an Indian interpretation of the song Stranger in Paradise) and by David Rolland. This three-week festival (the last performance is on April 16) focusses on promoting both French and Indian contemporary dance in India by expanding the audience of this art form.

    Mind the carpet
    According to Rolland, Stranger in Indian Paradise invites the audience “to enter a labyrinth of abstract figures, as each set starts out with a new visual, sound and choreographic design. He says he wanted to choreograph complex and very precise patterns on the floor so that the paths of the group of dancers can build geometric forms. ‘‘In the show, there are different canvases of 10m x 10m, that the audience can discover at the beginning of the sequences. Each canvas is colourful and is a support for a very different dance,” says the Frenchman, adding, ‘‘The canvases will be revealed to the public little by little. The dancers magically give life to the drawings, creating a kaleidoscope in perpetual motion.

    ’’ He created Stranger in Paradise in 2011 in France with the two Chennai-based dancers. “Stranger in Paradise, a ’60s number, is the title of a song performed by Gloria Lasso (and many others singers in the world),” he informs. “The style of music is different for each set—from the Stranger in Paradise to contemporary original music by Roland Ravard, Daniel Corral and Maarten Visser,” adds Rolland.

    From the past
    According to Athreya, the carpet is integral to the project. ‘‘The performance is open to interpretation. David comes from a different cultural background and when he approached me, I realised the dance had a strong methodology. So I did not mind the idea, ’’ says the dancer who has been practising since February and has a special carpet to dance on. ‘‘I am part of the 10 dancers and, at one point, I have a special carpet with a different print on it. It is called the calligraphy carpet,’’ she explains.

    Strangers in Indian Paradise is at Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall, today, at 7.30 pm. Details: af-madras.org

    —Mrinalini Sundar

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