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regular-article-logo Thursday, 23 May 2024

Riverine grace

Choreographed by Das’s shishya, Charlotte Moraga, Invoking the River is premised on the origin stories of four Indian rivers and uses a multimedia storytelling format to retell mythology with a contemporary flavour

Shaoli Pramanik Published 13.04.24, 07:11 AM
A moment from Invoking the River.

A moment from Invoking the River. Source: Omer Haider

Lapping sounds with a sinistrous undercurrent reverberating through the wings of an empty stage before the introductory address set the tone for Invoking the River, a dance production presented by Chitresh Das Institute in association with Showhouse at the G.D. Birla Sabhagar. Das, the late Kathak exponent credited with introducing the form to America, espoused experimentation within the tenets of a purist tradition. His collaboration with Tap and Flamenco dancers was an attempt to explore the shared roots of dissimilar dance forms.

Choreographed by Das’s shishya, Charlotte Moraga, Invoking the River is premised on the origin stories of four Indian rivers and uses a multimedia storytelling format to retell mythology with a contemporary flavour. Four dancers enacted the four rivers, portraying the riverine trajectories, etching out the fine lines, complex rhythms, and disruptions, evoking, in the process, the convergence of water and memory in their formlessness. Alakananda, represented by Kritika Sharma, was depicted as nature’s symbiosis with humankind using intricate hasta mudras and a spellbinding number of chakkars. Vanita Mundhra depicted the Ganga as a kinetic force emerging from Shiva’s locks along with one of its manifestations at the Manikarnika ghat, where it became synonymous with loss during Covid. Her footwork was in harmony with the pensive tunes and taal of Utsav Lal’s piano and Naushad Ahmed’s tabla, respectively.

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Mayuka Sarukkai’s Kaveri (picture) was a tour de force in storytelling. Depicting the liberation of a stream trapped inside a pot, Sarukkai’s nimble footwork coupled with abhinaya helped evoke the imagery of a claustrophobic space despite the vastness of the performative stage. The movements of Shruti Pai’s Godavari were rapid and her postures metaphorical representations, ranging from widows’ fight for agency to choking river pollutants.

The denouement, where the four rivers come together to invoke their mythical sister, Saraswati, however, felt a bit underwhelming given the overuse of dupattas to portray sangam that took away from the core aesthetics of the tradition.

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