From 21st to 24th October 2015, Out of India: Modern Moves was being showcased at the Barbican Pit Theatre, as part of the Dance Umbrella Festivals, an internationally-renowned festival which took dance out of the theatre and into the public arena, as well as performances in London's most prestigious venues, throughout the month of October.
Out of India encompasses three distinct dance performances, choreographed by three of the most interesting contemporary choreographers who have emerged from India's dance scene.
NH7 was choreographed by Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy; Trikonanga by Hemabharathy Palani; and Nerves by Surjit Nongmeikapam.
NH7, performed by Charan C S and Amaresha Kempanna, deals with the effect of capitalism on Indian society. Shivaswamy explained, “NH7 is deeply driven by the migration of the rural population to urban spaces in search of a 'better life', and the reality of this. The piece comments on the intricate, confused, rapid urbanisation of reflecting the changing landscape of the city.”
The performers' fluid in-sync movements narrates a story of the turmoil a rural migrant might face while moving to the urban landscapes of India. Their facial expressions, along with their wandering moves elevated the intensity of the performance.
Trikonanga integrates the physical ties of three dance forms, contemporary, ballet, and Bharatanatyam, and also passes through several emotional states. The choreographer, Hemabharathy Palani, who also performed this piece, used every core of her body to transpire the story to the audience. She was unkept, unabashed and enormously empowered by her own body and movements, empowering the audience in the process as well. She depicted a sense of restriction as well as liberation in the same breath, enthralling the spectators.
Trikonanga was co-produced by Cornelia Albrecht, Ballet National de Marseille, France.
The final piece of Out of India was Nerves, which was supported by Prakriti Foundation, Chennai Nachom Arts of Contemporary Movement, Manipur Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bangalore Graner, Barcelona O Espaco Do Tempo and Montmor.
Nerves has a mix of dancers as well as non dancers from Manipur; Senjam Hemjit Meitei, Laiphamgbam Suraj Roy, Sorokhaibam Akee, Rajkumar Roseen Singh, as well as the choreographer Surjit Nongmeikapam.
The dance piece was based on the conflict that Manipuri people encounter on a daily basis in the state of Manipur. Nongmeikapam said, “In 2014, I started working on Nerves, with dancers and non-dancers from Manipur. Nerves is all about organic movement which I want to come from within each performer, reflecting the challenges they have faced in their everyday lives while living in Manipur.”
Nerves is a powerful dance piece which tremendously depicts the current turmoil in Manipur. The highlight of this dance segment was the hanging shoes which the performers were trying to save themselves from, signifying the present challenges faced by the people of Manipur. Another interesting part which outshone was when the performers were twirling around in red wool, which tangled around their body. To me, it connoted the mass blood shed and the loss of lives. A strikingly memorable performance!
Out of India was certainly a pleasant surprise and a breath of fresh air as well. It diverts your mind away from the typical Bollywood dance form, which has become mainstream and popularised in the west. The show emphasised the power of storytelling via your body and how one can feel empowered, as well as empower others through sharing such stories, without having to utter a single word. As they say, silence is golden- it certainly is in this case. A marvellous show recommended for everyone, especially for those who enjoy new experiences.