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Fashion meets dance at Delhi Couture Week
- Ashwin Kumar

September 8, 2013

And then fashion came calling! Again! We performed for designer Anju Modi's collection presented at Delhi Couture Week. The collection labelled 'Draupadi' was all about the warrior princess look. Working on the theme for her collection we depicted three scenes from Mahabharata - SWAYAMVAR, GAME OF DICE and CHEERHARAN. The stories were well known but never explored by us in the Indian Contemporary Dance context.

Mayuri conceptualized the three sequences with the designer. Mayuri choreographed one sequence while Madhuri choreographed the other two sequences. Keeping in mind every artiste's persona, the choreographers chose eight artistes for the character depiction. The tricky part was the stage dynamics since the stage had just a 6 ft wide fashion ramp. So the movement vocabulary had to be designed in a way that the emotion of the choreography is not lost and is received by the audience in full who were placed in a 180 degree angle.

The choreographers experimented on the styles of dancing that they would choose for the choreography. They also had to keep in mind that the female dancer Draupadi had to be the highlight of the pieces since she was the inspiration of the designer. Once the basic sketch was ready, the other dancers came in. We were taught the movements and the choreographers began then to create what they actually wanted. There were alterations in the movements because of the space constraint. As the pieces progressed, the choreographers started experimenting more on the lines of creating the emotion strongly to build the pieces or the ideas that they had in mind to communicate.

For me, it was a great learning experience right from creating the movements as an understudy to observing the work evolve. How the dynamics of a stage affect the entire choreography was something new and interesting to delve into. Also interesting was the fact of integrating the costumes to highlight the movements and vice versa. The freedom and the constraint that the costumes gave defined the choreography and using the limitations to one's benefit was a challenge. The long discussion sessions followed by movement creation to the actual presentation was an experience to cherish.

Ashwin Kumar is a dancer with Bangalore based Nritarutya Dance Company.

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