Kripa Iyer and Neelambaree Prasad’s digital pageant, Aprajita, is connecting dancers throughout the globe and redefining what it means to be a group

Around this time final 12 months, the leisure world was simply beginning to study to adapt to lockdowns and going digital. Fans caught Norah Jones and Aventura’s livestreams, whereas lounging of their beds; large-scale music festivals, together with NH7 and Sunburn, went wholly on-line; and because the pandemic dissolved the idea of ticket kiosks, folks obtained busy constructing their digital avatars for live shows such because the Zero Music Festival. The competitors quickly grew fierce: it wasn’t sufficient to forged occasions on-line, the occasions needed to be brief, impactful, and fascinating.

It was a studying curve, admit London-based Odissi dancers Kripa Iyer and Neelambaree Prasad, organisers of the worldwide dance pageant, Aprajita. The three-day occasion, which opens tomorrow (April 30) — hosted by Nehru Centre, the cultural wing of the High Commission of India within the UK — has 9 dancers from across the globe coming collectively to carry out on the theme ‘resilience’.

Taking notes in 2020

Iyer and Prasad share a protracted historical past — from being childhood pals and dance class buddies in Mumbai to now neighbours in London. In 2018, they co-founded Madhuriya Art House, a dance firm that works in direction of embedding Indian classical dance inside London’s cultural scene. The firm was on the verge of organising a workshop with Indian classical dancers and ballet dancers in early 2020, when the pandemic threw a spanner of their plans. “It was absolutely heartbreaking,” says Iyer on a Zoom name from London.

Following that disappointment, and the looming nightmare of a pandemic, the 2 stayed house, watching and typically taking part in digital dance festivals, whereas all the time taking notes. “Where is the gap? What would be nice for the audiences? What doesn’t work?,” Prasad recollects them asking one another. “It’s hard to engage with the audiences when it’s an online event, and we have sat through discussions that ran on for two hours,” says Iyer.

Mindful of those factors, they designed Aprajita the place every phase doesn’t exceed 50 minutes and the line-up has selection — punctuating dance sequences with talks on dance science and historical past, and scheduling performances which are each Indian classical and fusion. They had additionally noticed that the majority festivals both featured established dancers or the upcoming artistes. They dissolved these classes by incorporating a wholesome mixture of the 2, with headliners together with Kutiyattam dancer Kapila Venu and Bharatanatyam artiste Pushkala Gopal MBE (in a hearth chat with professor Ann David, on the Evolution of Classical Indian Dance within the UK).

Rhythms cross borders

The most difficult half was to set the temper, says Prasad. “As artistes, you feed off each others’ energy. That’s not happening because you are not together,” provides Iyer. So they needed to discover different methods to usher in the pageant spirit. Artistes who hadn’t labored with one another earlier than have been paired collectively within the hope that they might “inspire and motivate each other”, says Iyer.

For instance, the occasion encompasses a Bharatanatyam and modern dance collaboration between UK-based artistes Pallavi Anand and Belinda Roy, and one more between Phil Scarff, who performs Hindustani classical music on saxophone, and Bharatanatyam dancer Neha Bhatnagar. If not for the net format, Iyer says, “We wouldn’t have naturally thought about an artiste in the US collaborating with an artiste in Australia.”

The on-line format has additionally helped them characteristic dancers from India. While they all the time had the plan of flying Indian dancers to carry out in London, it by no means materialised, till now. Aprajita will embody performances by Guru Debi Basu and Sanyuktam Arts, Mumbai; Rakesh Sai Babu and Trikayaa dance firm, New Delhi; and Kapila Venu, Kerala.

All the dances are recorded by the artistes in “their studios/homes/outdoor locations” and edited by an professional primarily based in Chennai, the duo writes in an e-mail. “The virtual medium is a great equaliser and enabler. In fact, the definition of ‘community’ is no longer just geographical,” says Prasad.

The means ahead

“The advantage of being a dancer who is now trying to curate is that you have seen the other side,” says Iyer, including that when she first did a document, she was terrified — discovering the entire expertise of dancing in entrance of a digital camera fairly unusual. Though each Iyer and Prasad can’t wait to carry out in entrance of a stay viewers once more, they consider that digital occasions are right here to remain. Going ahead, they consider that any huge stay occasion may also have a web based angle, the audience received’t be restricted by their location, and there can be higher potentialities of collaborations throughout oceans. Aprajita is their means of initiating each artistes and audiences into this new face of tradition.


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