Around 20 people sit along the walls of a basement room that functions as a dance studio in a quiet Delhi neighbourhood. They look on as dancer Veena Basavarajaiah, who is trained in Bharatnatyam, Kalaripayattu and Western classical ballet, moves to the pulse of a metronome, a drum and a Tibetan prayer bell. All through her 10-minute dance piece, titled Maya tatam idam sarvam jagat, she stays within a 2m-wide circle marked out with tiny red bulbs. The Bhagvad Gita-inspired piece is spectacular, but Basavarajaiah’s mentors and facilitators at Gati’s dance residency programme find it much too conventional. With only three weeks left at the time for the final performance, they ask her to strip it of structure and see where it goes. “It’s too clean," one of them says, while another adds, “If you perfect this, we’ve had it."
Fluid grace: Choreographer Swati Mohan develops her Kabir-inspired piece Doha with partner Sangeet. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint