Dance depicting Gandhi's life

Dance depicting Gandhi's life


Dance depicting Gandhi's life

Danseuse Geeta Chandran made an attempt on August 17 to revisit Mahatma Gandhi in her production Gandhi - Warp and Weft, an abstract dance form which was a part of the Gandhirama Festival organised by Indian Council of Philosophical Research.

The performance comprised six concepts – the six ideologies of the Mahatma which include religious unity, celibacy, Satyagraha, ahimsa, caste, shram and khadi - that merged into each other through choreography, costumes, music and lighting.

Commenting on her performance and clarifying about her piece, Geeta said, “This wasn’t a docu-drama. It was about a contemporary Indian woman dancer revisiting the vision of Gandhi. It’s not a presentation of how he’s been depicted through history. It involved even critical comment sometimes.” She added, “Concepts like shram, caste and khadi have been neglected and require focus. Some of these problems remain today, just as Mahatma Gandhi left them.

Explaining one of the ideologies of the father of the nation, Geeta said, “For instance khadi -- we’ve used it to illustrate the need for sustainability in development, nature, ecology and the sustenance of small scale industries, which is really not happening today.”

Geeta, known for her deeply complex, rich and layered concepts and abhinaya, incorporated into her recital an exploration of the relevance, or even the non-relevance, of these concepts. “That is why it was called ‘Warp and Weft’. Art can say much more than an actual speech on the same subject,” says Chandran.

While Satyagraha showcased Gandhi’s mass civil disobedience movements and the famed Dandi March, the piece used thread as a metaphor in the khadi section. “I used few props as symbols. While a gentle gesture of turning the plate symbolised Satyagraha, the thread became much more than a requirement for spinning khadi. For me, it symbolised dividing the nation,” said Geeta.

The hour-long production was a solo performance as Geeta felt that she wanted to express herself and not collaborate for a while. She is known to experiment with Bharatanatyam and contemporary dance very often but, in her upcoming works, Chandran wants to go back to her reference point and visit her classical roots.

The music was created by Pratik Biswas, who engaged with diverse sound elements such as Carnatic and Hindustani classical and commentary. The production relied heavily on costumes that have been created by Sandhya Raman.