RECLAIMING THE CRITICAL SPACE | 120 MIN
Preethi Athreya, Pravin Kannanur, Vijay Boothalingam, Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy
What is a subversive body in dance in India? Where do we find evidence of this body in the larger historical narrative of dance practice in the country? With the steady institutionalisation of contemporary dance and its colonisation by new economic interests, how do practitioners retain the criticality of their work? Drawing from their own practice and from their collaborative work together, choreographer Preethi Athreya, dramaturge Pravin Kannanur, and filmmaker Vijay Boothalingam discuss the contemporary body in India from a practical and theoretical point of view. They are joined by choreographer, Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy.
Examining her personal practice, Preethi locates the contemporary within the critical space by revisiting the origins of the movement in Chennai. Through film-maker, Vijay, the focus shifts to the site of interaction between the camera and the moving body. Citing certain historical points of reference, the role of film and dance is re-examined for its criticality. From thereon, dramaturge Pravin locates the Indian body as the site of protest and dissent within the backdrop of pre-independent India to the current day. The three are joined by choreographer, Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy, who draws from his dance creation, ‘Brittle Frames’ to examine the body in the context of the Kashmir crisis.
A Chennai-based contemporary dancer, Preethi Athreya trained in Bharatanatyam and later went on to do a postgraduate degree in Dance Studies (Laban Centre, London, 2001). Working within the Indian contemporary dance scene as a performer, choreographer and facilitator, Preethi’s approach is marked by a constant dialogue with form and possibilities of reframing content. Preethi is one of the co-founders of Basement 21, a practice-based performance collective in Chennai. Preethi’s review of Belgian choreographer, Michel Laub’s work, Total Masala Slammer was published in the Dance Research Journal, New York, in 2004.
Vijay Boothalingam wrote and directed short films after completing his diploma in Film & Media (Directing) from the University of Technology Sydney. The last of those films, ‘The Traveller’, screened at a number of festivals in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Besides, he has assisted in various capacities in documentary films, corporate videos, commercials, feature and short films in Australia. He completed a professional course in Film Production from Metro Screen Sydney, a premier institute and film funding organisation that sources and encourages film talent across Australia. In India, Vijay has worked on video installations for contemporary dance, scripted a film which got selected in the first round of the Mumbai Mantra screenwriters lab (Script in progress), travelled and filmed stories in the Sunderbans and Varanasi for a documentary project on the Ganges. Most recently, Vijay was associate director on an Indian (Tamil/ Hindi) bilingual feature film which deals with women’s boxing in India. It is regarded as a critical path-breaker in Tamil film language.
A theatre director and a visual artist, Pravin Kannanur is one of the founders of Magic Lantern, a Chennai-based theatre group. Having trained at the studio of abstractionist Bhagwan S. Chavan, he had his early professional training in theatre sets, lights and videography at the Strasbourg School of Theatre, France. Having directed ‘Caligula’ and ‘Don Juan’ for experimental theatre group, Koothu-p-pattarai in Chennai, Pravin has been involved in the field of contemporary dance since 1992 when he directed dancer, Padmini Chettur in the work ‘Wings and Masks’. He went on to establish his own theatre group, Magic Lantern, working as a director. He has co-founded artists’ collectives, such as the India Theatre Forum and Basement 21 and strongly believes that artists have to nurture their ecosystems.
Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy has been engaged in artistic work as a performer, creator and teacher since 2000. He has trained and worked with dance companies in India and Europe. He holds a post-graduate diploma in choreography from S.E.A.D in Salzburg, Austria. Presently, Shivaswamy is based in New Delhi. In Bengaluru, he co-founded The Kha Foundation, an art collective.