First Look: Contemporary Dance Festival To Explore Form and Dissent

New Delhi: “How do you spot the ‘political’ dancing body? Does it strike a pose? Is it likely to jump? Does it favour stillness? What are its views on endurance?” Gati Dance Forum’s IGNITE! 2016, a festival of contemporary dance (from October 9-16 in Delhi and on October 18-19 in Jaipur), seeks to highlight these concerns through the prism of themes such as form, identity and dissent. Themes that come across in the choices artists make – to belong, represent, appropriate, assert or deny.

Accordingly, the performances address crucial contemporary issues, from the spectrum of rural migration and urban decay of dystopian proportions to the contours of ethnocentrism. In doing so they not only put forth critiques of society; they interrogate the act of performance itself. The festival has a strong line-up of artists such as Surjit Nongmeikapam, Nimmy Raphel, Preethi Athreya, Sujata Goel, Rajyashree Ramamurthi, and Deepak Shivaswamy.

The festival comprises performances, a conference, masterclasses, film screenings, and an exhibition of archival material from the life and times of Chandralekha. The conference “places the body at the centre of a complex interrogation that considers how the body has been informed by, and informs, several processes, politics and histories,” according to the organisers.

Highlights from the conference include a conversation between writer/critic Sadanand Menon, dancer and poet Tishani Doshi, and dancer Krishna Devanandan titled ‘Chandralekha and Beyond’, as well as a discussion on ‘Activism and Sexuality in Performance’, moderated by academic and author Gautam Bhan, and featuring dancers and choreographers Navtej Johar and Mandeep Raikhy.

Three new works from #INTERSECT, featuring collaborations between contemporary dancers and visual artists, initiated by Gati Dance Forum and the Devi Art Foundation, will also be premiered at the festival.

A look at the manner in which the broad range of productions will interrogate the themes of form, identity and dissent in the festival:

The Big Dream is where two dreamers meet [a collaboration between Imphal-based choreographer Surjit Nongmeikapam and Delhi-based painter Kartik Sood]. They explore their dreams from childhood and their day-to-day dreams. Dreams have vast implications. The piece is inspired by the artists’ most intimate dreams and David Lynch’s music album, ‘The Big Dream’.

In Nidravathwam, Pondicherry-based Nimmy Raphel finds a springboard in the Ramayana, linking the lifelines of two of its key characters, Kumbhakarna and Lakshman, through sleep – the absence and presence of it.

In Conditions of Carriage, choreographed by Preethi Athreya from Chennai, in the space of a square pit, a group of people negotiate the force of gravity within their bodies. Time becomes a marker pulling bodies into orbit. In relation to one another, individualities surface, giving way to a new sense of the body in the space.

In NH7, Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy writes home about rural migration and the dizzying pace of urbanisation that transforms his city even as he finds his bearings in it.

In Dancing Girl, US-based Sujata Goel explores the construction of gesture and meaning, challenging the politics of exotica and a Eurocentric understanding of contemporary dance aesthetics.
The full festival schedule can be accessed here.

The eight-day festival will be followed by a satellite festival in Jaipur on October 18-19.

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