Fuelling the fire for dance

Dressed in serene white, the dancers captured audience attention instantly and proceeded to deliver a 60 minute enchanting dance performance entitled Meidhwani/ Echoes of the Body, choreographed by Jaychandran Palazhy from Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts to kickstart Ignite! a festival of contemporary dance in the City.

The fluid movements highlighted the turmoil that humans face in urban settings. A combination of mei (body in Tamil) and dhwani (echo in Sanskrit), the title of the performance subtly alluded to the echoes of the body in imagined landscapes. Hence, the production traversed urban Indian experience, combining fragility of solitude and chaos of turmoil, with fluidity of movement.

Unravelling like a spiral, the dancers portrayed individuals captivated by circumstance and history, and oscillating between the suspended realms of body and soul. Jaychandran observed the turmoil within people but dancers added to the choreography with their experiences. “The changed life surroundings can be quite unsettling. This forms the concept and framework for Meidhwani but a lot of improvisation was brought in by dancers. They contributed through their experiences by digging up memories and came up with movements based on the music score.”

A few elements like the fire act were a metaphor for male energy and a destructive power within which was contrasted sharply with water, which alludes to the ever flowing life stream representing female energy. The use of metallic pots as props, suggested a contained yet unfathomable feminine infinity contrasted against the phallus represented by cylindrical oil lamps.

The dance piece, borne of in-depth research into Indian performance traditions, resonates with a collective memory while drawing sustenance from the classical form of Bharatanatyam and abstract animal motifs of Kerala’s martial art Kalarippayattu. “The process of research and choreography took one year which finally lead to the idea of a body evolving from a landscape and dissolving back into it. The dance depicts memories of landscape through poetic devices.”

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