A performance to remember

MASTER DANCER

This performer definitely doesn’t fail to leave his audience awestruck. Astad Deboo had the same effect on Delhiites during his recent performance in the City.

Flexible moves : Astad Deboo

The choreographer’s stunning signature style characterised by intense focus, concentration and technical virtuosity along with a distinctive Indian aesthetics of evoking rasa was witnessed at its best. He divided the performance titled ‘Horizon Series’ into three sections–‘Ahavan’, ‘Breaking Out’ and ‘Every Fragment of Dust is Awakened’.

In the section titled ‘Ahavan’ Astad sought blessing of Lord Ganesha and Nataraj. The stage was set with white drapes on which visuals from nature were projected and Astad’s fluid moves merged so well in the backdrop of these photographs that the crowd broke into an encore. He says, “I worked closely with my photographer to make sure that my choreography presents me as one with nature.”

In ‘Breaking Out’, Astad’s body movement changed with music. Each part of his body formed a dance step which brought alive the music composed by Gert Anklem. From trumpet to drums, as the music changed, Astad’s dance movements also gained momentum. The pioneer of contemporary dance form concluded the recital with a lyrical dance narrative inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s poem, Every Fragment of Dust is Awakened. To mark the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Tagore, the choreographer dressed in a blue robe took innumerable swirls on the music composed by Yoichiro Yoshikawa and left an indelible mark on dance lovers.

Priya Vohra, who had come to watch the performance says, “I can’t imagine that one can balance so much. I have learnt taekwondo but what Astad performed through dance was unbelievable. It is amazing to see a man his age dance with such grace and grandeur.” Another spectator Priyamvada Kumar says, “I was looking forward to this performance as it is always a treat for the eyes to watch Astad perform on stage. Each movement of his body was unique and narrated a newness in dance.”

Astad is known as a person who has always taken the path that is less traversed. He has rewritten the conventional dance theatre styles and his name is synonymous with contemporary Indian dance, a style that he pioneered at a time when innovation in Indian dance was not welcomed. “I wanted my choreography in such a way that lighting illuminates every part of my body and I am able to present a treat to the spectator,” Astad says.

A trained dancer in Indian classical dance forms of Kathak and Kathakali, Astad has created a niche in dance form that is unique to him. Through his long and illustrious career, he has worked with various prominent performers such as Pina Bausch, Alison Chase and Pink Floyd, and performed in many parts of the world.

A recipient of Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Astad is every bit fit even at 65. He says, “Body is like a machine which has to be taken care of. I work out and keep rehearsing to ensure that it stays fit.”

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