24 October, 2020

Nouveau Rasa Diary

Choreography for films is totally different from doing it for the stage. After 30 seconds, it’s a cut.., says India’s foremost ­contemporary dancer Astad Deboo.

Nouveau Rasa Diary
Dancing in a Conch Shell

Sometimes I think I’ve been pretty much on my own, and still am. Dancing with a big black bulb on stage, an installation of light. Or on old city walls, bringing myself to life with the inanimate, in Champaner, Granada, the Great Wall of China. Or moving inside sound. Like my current project, dancing with the austere, deep-sea currents of the rudra veena. Then I think, “It’s not just playing in the background. Woh jugalbandi hai saath mein.” A conversation between me—a contemporary dancer, which means what I make it mean—and a very traditional instrument. I think of my collaborators: when I do spaces, it’s a photographer like Ritam Banerjee, or an artist like Sunil Gawde. This time, it’s dhrupad and Ustad Bahauddin Dagar.

I’ve been working with dhrupad singers off and on since 1990. I’d met Bahauddin a few years ago and really liked his whole demeanour and...



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