Sunday, Aug 14, 2022
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Rewind, Play, Forward

Varied ideas line up, but never freeze into formations. That isn’t the mission either. After all, dance keeps evolving all the time.

The goddess is green-hued, and the dancer resorts to metaphors to enhance the visual effect. How? The gestures and movem­ents are of nature—leaves, trees, birds. Okay. Indian classical? Yes, ‘stock movements’ from Bharatanatyam. Well, thereafter, the artiste goes off-beat. He dips his hand into green dusted powder, which goes on to mingle with the sweat of the dancer. He continues to perform; ends up adorning himself with green marks. Where all? Torso, head and even face.

The effect of Navtej Johar’s innovation is that of a “startling transposition of the spectator’s focus”, says fellow dancer Justin McCarthy. The purist may not agree, but then Tilt Pause Shift: Dance Ecologies in India doesn’t stop any from sharing what one felt on seeing a stage production. Artistes too have views. That way, Navtej looks clearer when it comes to writing. In his account, Locating Autonomy, De-policing Ambition, the dancer comes up with an interesting paradox: what has come down as ‘tradition’ is “beautiful, profound, fine and uplifting”, while its understanding is “oppressive, fabricated, insidious and mind-numbing”.

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