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Breaking the barriers of mind, body and soul

Last updated: 06 March, 2010
Rajita Gadagkar 12:20 IST

Movement arts

Attakkalaris latest production Chronotopia which travels to Sweden and Germany this March is a sensorially stimulating and conceptually adventurous production

Energy flow: From Attakalari’s earlier production ‘For Pina.’A modern interpretation of the age-old Tamil epic ‘Chilapathikkaram’, this multimedia dance production explores the sense of human disembodiment in times of rapid change through the mind, memory and emotional landscape of its woman protagonist played by three female dancers.

Choreographed by Jayachandran Palazhy, ‘Chronotopia’ uses nonlinear dramaturgy to crisscross physical and temporal spaces, and interweaves classical Tamil poetry with deliberately stylised physical movements in a digitally constructed stage setting. ‘Chronotopia’ also sees Attakkalari collaborating with the most innovative minds on the technology front, including computational arts specialist Christopher Salter, electro-acoustic music expert Marije Baalman, light designer Thomas Dotzler, and digital artist Christian Ziegler.

The man at the helm of Attakkalari’s art-making is managing trustee Jayachandran Palazhy, internationally renowned for his choreography and prolific body of work in the contemporary dance world.

After his graduation, the athlete who had always been drawn to performance art, put on his dancing shoes and trained intensively in Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Kalaripayattu.
However, despite learning with the masters and developing a deep bond with the classical and folk dance traditions of India, Jayachandran yearned to find his own language which could be an authentic expression of his times. The aperture to a brave new world in movement art opened up when the dancer took off for a stint at the London Contemporary Dance School. Thrown into the cultural maelstrom of Europe, a decade of artistic discovery followed, which gave Jayachandran “some distance from India, and the time to reflect on a new world view.”

After years of questing, and expertise gained in many more forms such as ballet, Tai Chi, Capoeira and African dance, Jayachandran founded Attakkalari and evolved a brand new vocabulary and syntax for Indian contemporary dance which taps into its rich classical storehouse, but cuts a whole new and creative path from there on — where idea takes precedence over form, where rules can be broken, creativity nurtured and the ability to improvise and take risks are part of a hard day’s work.

“In India, dance is integral to how we lead our lives, remember our past and imagine our future. We have a tradition of imagining everything from the architecture of a building to the structure of the universe in terms of movement and energy of the human body. Indian society has always invested in dance. This has resulted in a plethora of dance expressions, from folk, ritual and classical to experimental and innovative,” says Jayachandran, explaining the omnipresence of dance in the everyday Indian milieu.
He goes on to elaborate: “Unfortunately, as a society, we fail to understand the importance of investing in the development of this art form which should be made available to the entire community. Movement arts also have the added advantage of transcending the awkward linguistic barriers that pose an inhibiting influence in nurturing inclusive policies in the arts on India.”

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