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When man tried to be god
- Madhuri Upadhya

October 12, 2013

They say you have to choreograph something close to life, more importantly close to your own life! As choreographers, we can weave fantasy around the story, romanticize, be brutally literal, abstract or whimsical. I chose to look at characters from our mythology to tell my story... My story of losing, my story of crying, my story of helplessness, my story of getting up and trying again and my story of not belonging anywhere. Well, how am I in this situation.... answer... life. The more you live it, more seasons it gives you!

So I decided to express it through a dance piece. My dance mate Vishwa, who danced this piece, and I started our quest of finding the Trishanku in us. Initial sessions were done outdoor around the rim of a circular swimming pool which reminded me of a well. We did a lot of research on repetitive movements and the kind of feeling it generates. E.g The same Bharatanatyam adavu was done continuously for 10 minutes going around the rim of the pool and the feelings were noted. Hence the body reacting to the bhava became more important than the movement itself. A whole section of the dance was developed based on this research which for me is 'chasing and seeking.'

As Trishanku had committed 3 sins, I delved into the 3 sins committed by my dancer at different points in his life, along with Trishanku's sins. I wanted to explore this aerially which makes people feel like their whole life is flashing in front of them. I wanted to take my audience to two different time zones and hence have narrated the story of Trishanku with the classical dance style Bharatanatyam. It sort of creates a sudden time shift and also talks about the pathos of Trishanku's life.

I have observed the confusion, restlessness, impulsiveness and recklessness of our modern lives today. Our ideas today start from somewhere and end somewhat abruptly and vaguely. This was kind of similar to what Trishanku went through in his life. I have explored this in the last section of the dance. Another interesting concept for me is that this dance is throughout performed in a circular space of light, a feeling of no beginning and no end.

I have collaborated with Kiran Subramanyam for choreography of the classical dance section. He brings in an amazing insight and freshness to the dance. The music is scored by Raghu Dixit who has breathed life into this dance sequence. His sensitivity to sound and musical textures brings on shades of imagination to the performance.

It's been an interesting experience through the entire process of creating as it has actually changed my perception of 'belonging.'

Madhuri Upadhya of contemporary dance group Nritarutya based in Bangalore, describes the journey to choreographing her new work 'Trishanku.'

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