Wednesday 14 May 2014

Interview - The classical and the contemporary: a comparative analysis - Shveta Arora

At a fusion dance event in Delhi that I attended some time ago, western contemporary dancers danced a segment with an Indian Kathak dancer. The contemporary girls had danced a few segments earlier, impressing the audience with their strength and conceptual robustness. But when the two dance forms were presented together on the same stage, it seemed to me that they had clear areas of strengths and weaknesses. While the Indian classical form relied heavily on grace, form and direct expression, the contemporary style was all about strength, athleticism and agility, presenting abstract concepts.
Classical dances of most kinds are bound in centuries of tradition and ages of evolving style and technique. The Indian classical dances follow a certain code or paradigm and have been handed down from gurus to shishyas through many generations. The dance is usually based on a mythological tale or a love lore. But to suit modern times, contemporary dance evolved probably from a classical form but defied any kind of structure. It does not follow any code, and usually depicts an abstract theme, emotion or idea. Many classical dancers too have experimented with contemporary in order to do something novel. The dance is usually based on some individualistic topic.

With World Dance Day having gone by recently, the focus of this article is to explore the physical and thematic aspects of the two dance forms, through conversations with a few well-known Indian classical dancers from various traditions who have some experience in, or exposure to, contemporary dance. Here, to a set of common questions, are the answers of Kathak dancer Aditi Mangaldas, Odissi dancer Reela Hota and Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Chandran.

Read the interview in the site

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