The Prayana dance festival, presented by the Goethe Institut and the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, was a magnificent revelation of hidden expressions, a protest against the cruelty of fate as well as against repression. It was also a grand salute to life itself — a life in which each day begins with the struggle to overcome difficulties but ends with us expressing our gratitude for the life that we lead. The five-day festival included film screenings, workshops and stage performances. The film on Pina Bausch and the video of Dialoge 2013 by Sasha Waltz were learning experiences for budding choreographers and dancers. The main attractions were three stage performances — AdhaaraChakra, MeiDhwani and Nagarika.
AdhaaraChakra was a cyclical journey through time and space, from urban streets to remote villages. The choreography of Jayachandran Palazhy and the dancers from Attakkalari Repertory Company mesmerized the audience. The flawless and smooth movements of the artists expressed the inner passion of the dancers. The most interesting part of the presentation was the free dance movements before the screen which displayed the pure Indian classical dance form, Bharatnatyam. Ethnic style and modern music were combined; the sounds of the wind blowing, the cries of hawkers and the traffic pandemonium added an offbeat dimension to this performance. Dramatic light and shade, the use of silhouettes and the dynamic music demolished the barriers of conservatism. The hard work of the cast and crew, especially of Pipon for light, Dominic Dube for the set, Ken Furudate for the visuals, Sam Auinger and Martin Lutz for the music, sound and concept, Jyoti Sachdev and Sanchita for the costume and Gurumoorthy and Kuppuswami for the Carnatic and folk music, were praiseworthy.
MeiDhwani was an amalgamation of Tamil mei (body) and Sanskrit dhwani (echo or sound), which portrayed the relationships, emotions, tensions and reactions that exist within a human body. The performance became alluring for the music, the colour distribution of the costumes, the use of props and the innovative movements. The flexibility and expressions of the dancers made the show arresting. The simple yet dynamic choreography — the picture perfect motion of the body parts and joints, the sudden shifts and twists and turns — explored new challenges within the human body.
Nagarika was the platform for next-generation choreographers. The new faces in the arena of contemporary dance presented the philosophy of ‘struggle for existence’ in different forms. Their ultra-modern performances with a punch of new technology — using interesting backgrounds and films — were an unique experience for the audience. The aggression to achieve goals, to protest against deprivation, and the eternal physical and mental bondings in human relationships, were expressed through the different themes. They presented the toughest compositions with spontaneous ease. It is hard to forget these excellent performances — Bardo Beings by Divya Naidu, Emotica by Ankita Datta Gupta, Apiration by Pintu Das, Trikonanga by Hemabrathy Palani and Zamen by Ronita Mukherjee and Sylvester Mardi.