Unveiling a woven past
- Veena Basavarajaiah, Bangalore
e-mail: veenabasavarajaiah@gmail.com
Photos: Ranna MV

April 15, 2011

The mirror pool at the NGMA (National Gallery of Modern Art) reflects the image of a man clad in white long fabric wound around his body. He stands confident like a canvas ready to be filled with lines, shapes and colors. The voice of Hindustani singer Namrata Kartik layered with synthesized music of Yashas Shetty fills the outdoor space of the gallery premises and the performer responds to the music by brushing the space through movements of Chhau.

Performance by Vasudev C at NGMA

A solo by Vasudev C titled 'Unwinding the past' under the gallery's program 'Carte Blanche - the grounds of NGMA for temporal art interventions' on the 8th of April 2011. This contemporary dancer trained in Mayurbhanj Chhau under Bharat Sharma, is also a professional painter with an M.F.A (Master of Fine Arts) from the Chitrakala Parishat. The piece was presented in collaboration with photographer Ranna MV along with an exhibition of photographs that captured the dancerís motion in still images.

The painter/dancer formed patterns with his body and the fabric depicting past experiences, emotional fluctuations, relationships that are invariably attached to one's life. He wore it with elegance, fondled it with care, followed its trail, admired its texture while he slowly distanced from the never-ending yards of its entanglement. A literal narrative very similar to the experiences of Buddha as he renounces the world to seek salvation is seen as the sub-text in the piece, where the performer weaves images of ego, suffering, passion, regret, disorientation and ultimately a peaceful state of being where he is one with the world. The cloth wrapped around his limbs and waist was used as symbolic representation of one's past while the unveiling intended to convey liberation from this attachment.

Photo exhibition of Ranna MV at the gallery

The piece had a frail movement strategy with the dancer twisting, turning, zigzagging, unwrapping the cloth throughout the entire piece. Moments of strong focus, momentum and stark stillness gave hope of taking the piece to a different level but lost to monotony during this hour-long piece. However the live melancholic music juxtaposed by recorded mechanical sounds was married with the artist's conceptualization and movements. Vasudev's effort to simplify an abstract piece was achieved through literal representation of emotions making the piece comprehendible for a common man. The choreography pleased the eyes more like a beautiful painting than a movement performance, taking the audience's perception of visual art to a whole new level.

Veena Basavarajaiah is a Bangalore based solo dancer and choreographer who is trained in Bharatanatyam, Kalaripayattu, Ballet and Contemporary dance. She has worked with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company, Angika Dance Company, Attakkalari, Kalari Academy, Gati Forum, Nritarutya, Natyantharanga & Yana Lewis Dance Co. She has performed on various platforms across India, UK and Europe. She is the recipient of Special Mention Young Achievers Award in 2007 and also a paneled artist of the Indian council for Cultural relations.