Monday, 8 March 2021

Article - One Year Frame - Lockdown Technology for dance or Dance for Technology? - Navina Jafa

 "Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. There are no musical instruments, and yet, at the moment that my meditation opens, this room is throbbing with melodious sounds. An armchair is in the centre, by its side a reading desk - that is all the furniture. And in the armchair there sits a swaddled lump of flesh - a woman, about five feet high, with a face as white as a fungus. It is to her that the little room belongs." (E.M. Foster, 'The Stop Machine.')

The small, short story written by E.M. Foster in 1909 rings true for the human community today, as it did one century ago. Compelled to adjust to an alternate, framed world, 'Lockdown' for almost a year, human beings struggle to survive. Foster has several farsighted notions, including mechanisms for prompt instant communication message systems and even the idea of 'cinematophoes' that convey visual images.

Technology in the virtual space remains the single most powerful modality for the human community to assert their social and economic existence. "We are in an unprecedented situation, and the normal rules no longer apply. We cannot resort to the usual tools in such unusual times. The creativity of the response must match the unique nature of the crisis...," says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

COVID-19 has highlighted the equation between the physical activity of dance and technology. For the entire Indian dance community and linked tradition bearers comprising performers, teachers, choreographers, musicians, and even those engaged in technical support of light, stagecraft, sound, literary pursuits, and patronage repositioned themselves to engage in the new frame - 'Lockdown' through technology. The operational reality remains re-inventing journeys to survive in a predominantly recent performance and transmission space from the stage to the small screen 'stage' of a laptop or a mobile screen.

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