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Drishtikon pays homage to Astad Deboo
Images source: & Google

December 20, 2020

What happens to the dance when the dancing body is no more? What happen to the love we shared, when - skin, muscle and bone have disintegrated - dust to dust?

Astad, your dance, your humanity, your generosity of spirit - and above all your courage and conviction to be the lonely trailblazer on the dance sky, will forever remain in our hearts and minds. Your dance and your life will inspire and give courage to many generations to come.

You are and will always be a part of our living mythology - your 'dance being' had so many stories to share.

The heart can only ache...and you touched so many. Your friends and fans across the world are devastated.

Just a few days ago your voice was positive about your recovery.

Just a few weeks ago, we were chatting about your latest photoshoot.

Just a few months ago, you shared your brilliant dance film made with your dancers over zoom.

Dec.10th, 2020 are gone.
Belief is suspended. I am so so so sad

Astad Ji touched my life in many ways. I first met him as an aspiring dancer almost two decades ago when I participated in a workshop organised by Drishtikon. After this, we never lost connection. I was deeply impressed by his sense of movement and 'thahrav'. Our common association to Jamshedpur made our bond deeper. We would always talk about Jamshedpur. I can claim to have watched him every time he came to Delhi with his production which was always of international standards. His choice of music always overwhelmed me with its quality and connection. He was a legend but was always there to inspire me personally whenever I performed in Mumbai. If I performed in some other city, his good wishes were prompt. And I am sure it was not only about me. In this way, he touched many lives. He knew how to inspire future generations of classical and contemporary dancers.
He once told me...
[12/2/2019] Astad Deboo Ji: Congratulations I heard all about your London intensive, so proud of you.
Gauri Diwakar: You are always generous.
Astad Deboo Ji: I am always wanting talented people to succeed.

I miss you Astad Ji.

Walking down memory lane, so many beautiful memories with Astad ji flash across my mind. I distinctly remember that I met him for the first time at Aditi Didi's studio. He was looking rejuvenated, wearing bright linen pants and a shirt. Thereafter, I met him again at NCPA Mumbai during the Mumbai premiere of NOW IS. But I got to know him personally during my long stay in Korea, where I had the privilege of spending quality time with Astad ji and also attending his workshop. Astad ji paid several visits to Seoul during my stay there, enriching me with his vision and knowledge. What set him apart was the boldness and candid demeanor. Besides being an acclaimed artist, he was a friend, guide, and philosopher, who highlighted the importance of being clear and transparent in my personality. And this is an invaluable lesson for a lifetime. Even in the trying times of the pandemic, he kept guiding me via video conferences. He also gave vital suggestions regarding my dance career that will keep on guiding me forever. Astad ji, the eternal dancing soul, will forever be with us in spirit through his dance, priceless teachings and vision.

Met Astad Ji once in Singapore. Didn't interact with him much. Had just gone to watch one of his performances. He performed at NUS Singapore. Never seen a dancer moving so powerfully and gracefully on a live Koto performance. I saw a koto ensemble brilliantly playing together in sync with Astad Deboo who danced in a spotlight in a small backbox. I felt the stillness in his dance. His performance was dynamic, swift, and profound. Later I went and met him in his green room where he greeted me with a big smile on his face. There I saw vibrant and intricately detailed costumes hanging in his room. It spoke so much about his art and his interest in the smallest of details. There I saw a man so humble and focussed. Single-handedly arranging his costumes and getting ready for the next show.

Astad Deboo had an aura that remained in the room even after he left it. I met him for the first time at the British Council when he had come to meet colleagues from the Arts team. I was awestruck... totally mesmerized by his larger than life persona. What developed over the years thereafter was a friendship and relationship of immense respect for an artist and a gentleman whose passion for his art form was boundless. The next close interaction was in 2009 when Pro Helvetia - Swiss Arts Council invited Astad to collaborate with Swiss theatre director & choreographer Thomas Mettler for a project titled 'In Contro'. Astad truly belonged to the world and not just to India. I leave you with a short clip that captures Astad and Thomas improvising at a church in Ticino, Switzerland - Watch the two maestros create poetry in movement.

My grateful thanks to Thomas Mettler for allowing me to share the above video clip. "I'm truly shaken and so sad," wrote Thomas from his home in Switzerland, "My last solo 'Transitio' was dedicated to Astad! I will remember him as a great great innovator, a pathbreaking artist, twirling forever with me into eternity.... What a loss for this WORLD. What a loss for DANCE & the arts. What a loss for all of US who had the joy and honour to know HIM and to become his friends."

You've left your footprints across the world, dear Astad.
You're still walking beside each one of us.

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