Pick of the week: Dance, expression and transformation

NCPA’s Mudra Dance Festival will showcase a variety of dances and a workshop, all around the theme of transformation


Mudra Dance Festival will revolve around the theme of transformation.
Mudra Dance Festival will revolve around the theme of transformation.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus said change is the only constant. And only change can lead to transformation, which is what the Mumbai-based National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) will focus on during the four-day Mudra Dance Festival that starts on 20 April. 

“Every year before International Dance Day, we hold the Mudra Dance Festival. This year we chose transformation as our theme, to understand how audiences and artistes react to it in classical dance,” says Swapnokalpa Dasgupta, NCPA’s head for dance.

The festival will start with art consultant Usha R.K.’s conceptualization of transformation: Patra Vivartana. This will have three Bharatanatyam dances depicting instances of transformation in Indian mythology—the Ramayan and the Mahabharat.

Dakshina Vaidyanathan will tell the story of Surpanakha and how she transforms from a docile to a vengeful wife. Himanshu Shrivastava will portray the story of Shikhandi, who is born a woman but transforms into a man to become the reason for Bhishma’s death. The final dance of the first evening will be by Arupa Lahiri—it will tell the story of Ahalya, wife of the sage Gautama, who turns to stone after being seduced by Indra. She is later liberated from her curse by Lord Ram. 

“Ahalya is supposed to be Brahma’s daughter—an erudite, educated and beautiful lady. Some versions say that she wasn’t seduced but rather knowingly explored her sexuality and gave in to Indra’s advances. Through my dance I want to show how she was transformed not just from stone to woman, but also from inanimate to a knowledgeable being,” explains Lahiri.

Day 2 will focus on Lord Shiva as the source of all transformation. Shiva is often seen as the lord of destruction, but, as Dasgupta puts it, “destruction is only the step before creation”.

Day 3 will focus on the flow of dance—moving from one step to another. The final day will see a multi-dance presentation by four artistes—Sanjukta Wagh (Kathak), Jhelum Paranjape (Odissi), Vaibhav Arekar (Bharatanatyam) and Gauri Sharma Tripathi (Kathak). While Wagh will explore the idea of khayal or thought in dance, Paranjape will trace the tradition of Odissi from Gotipua to modern-day dancers and Arekar will focus on how the stage is transformed for solo, duet and group performances. Tripathi will be collaborating with modern contemporary dancers from choreographer Ashley Lobo’s dance school, Danceworx.

A lighting workshop on 23 April will be conducted by Jaydeep Apte, the resident lighting designer at the National Centre for the Performing Arts Repertory, which hosts experimental in-house plays. The 4-hour workshop will teach participants how light can transform a dance performance. 

“A dancer must understand the role lights play in a stage performance. A performance is not just music and dance but also the visual experience of it,” explains Apte.

The Mudra Dance Festival 2017 will be held from 20-23 April, 7pm, at the NCPA, Nariman Point. The workshop will be held on 23 April, from 11am. Tickets, Rs200, Rs300, Rs400, Rs600 and Rs1,000 (for the workshop), available on Bookmyshow.com and at the venue.

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