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Preethi Athreya’s piece explores the potentiality of space and its interrelationship with the body.
Preethi Athreya’s piece explores the potentiality of space and its interrelationship with the body.

Finding meaning in lost wax

Lost wax is the process of sculpting that uses wax moulds to cast metallic sculptures

The Lost Wax Project is a contemporary dance performance conceived by Chennai-based Preethi Athreya, a dancer and choreographer. It’s the first part of a work being put together with the help of three organizations—Goethe Institut, Alliance Française and InKo Centre.

The project seeks to explore the potentiality of space and its interrelationship with the body, and transformation possibilities. Athreya, who has been a dancer for two decades, trained in Bharatanatyam before moving to contemporary dance under the tutelage of Padmini Chettur.

Lost wax is the process of sculpting that uses wax moulds to cast metallic sculptures. The wax that initially fills a space from which the sculpture is born, disappears when the sculpture takes its final shape. “As in lost wax sculpting, the disappearance of the wax is correlated with negative space. It is from that thought that the piece was born," says Athreya.

Contemporary dance is always viewed as something that tends to be critical, and challenges the status quo. According to Athreya, this is what The Lost Wax Project does. “This piece does adopt critical thinking by viewing the relationship that we have with the silent space around us. Every move is deliberate, to draw a reaction of getting closer or further away from another person."

The dance, developed over three months, emphasizes the use of the body and the interrelationship between the four dancers and the space around them.

Besides Athreya, the three other dancers are Dipna Daryani and Avantika Bahl from Mumbai and Sanchita Sharma from Delhi. Daryani, who has worked with Athreya earlier, says, “Her earlier project, the Jumping Project, was extreme in terms of body work. This one is softer in terms of movements, and at first the purpose of the piece was difficult to understand, but I connected with this piece when I heard an artist’s perspective of negative space."

The process of development of the piece involved the dancers meeting for short periods over three months and rehearsing together and individually. Sharma came on board after a dancer sustained an injury. “Till I joined the main rehearsal, I was just working through the movements but once I started working with Preethi and understood her concept, it became easier to internalize the dance and connect with the other three dancers on stage with me," she says.

The 70-minute contemporary dance performance will have music from vocalist Bhairavi and contemporary Indian musician Darbuka Siva. The lighting has been done by Korean designer, Jeong Hee Kang, who is known for her non-intrusive and sensorial lighting designs. The dance can be viewed from every angle, as it will be performed on a circular stage.

The Lost Wax Project will be performed on 23-24 February, 7.15pm, at the Cholamandal Artists’ Village, East Coast Road, Chennai; 26-27 February, 8pm, at G5A Foundation, Mumbai; and 8-9 March, 8pm, Pickle Factory, GEM Cinema, Kolkata. The shows in Chennai and Mumbai are free; tickets to the Kolkata show, Rs500, are available on In.bookymyshow.com. Seating on first-come, first-served basis.

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