Rhythmic explorations at Goa’s Serendipity Arts Festival : The Tribune India

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Rhythmic explorations at Goa’s Serendipity Arts Festival

When it comes to dance, experimentation is the keyword at this year’s Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa. Here’s what the curators are vouching for

Rhythmic explorations at Goa’s Serendipity Arts Festival

‘Footprints in Blood’ draws upon feminist uprisings in Manipur.



Chryselle D’Silva Dias

FROM classical to street genres, national to international, traditional to technology-driven, popular to endangered — a variety of dance forms promises to entertain audiences at the Serendipity Arts Festival (SAF).

Being held from December 15-23 at Panaji in Goa, this year’s eclectic mix of experimental, contemporary and traditional works has been selected by award-winning dancers Mayuri Upadhya and Geeta Chandran.

Paramdeep Singh is known for his open style.

Upadhya has an illustrious career as a choreographer, educationist and entrepreneur. She’s currently the artistic director of Bengaluru-based dance organisation Nritarutya. “This is my third year as a dance curator at SAF,” says Upadhya, who insists that the effort has been to look at the possibilities dance presents. Chandran is a Bharatnatyam exponent. She calls SAF a confluence of the arts presented in a myriad of movements, colours, sounds, textures and flavours. “The various projects celebrate dance as a form of cultural expression and storytelling.”

Prithvi Nayak’s Odissi comes with a twist.

The performances include ‘Mandala’, a collaboration between vocalist Chandana Bala Kalyan and Kuchipudi exponent Amrita Lahiri. It depicts a conversation between music and dance. ‘Kahaniyon ka Manthan’ by Akshay Gandhi and Divya Warrier is a conversation between crafts and dance. “What’s very interesting about this performance is that it is kavad katha, an endangered storytelling form,” says Upadhya, for whom ‘Cartoon Natyam’ is another event to look forward to. “I like looking at how people are using dance to communicate or introspect on socially relevant themes and ‘Cartoon Natyam’ by Veena Basvarajaiah fits the bill. She uses very simple cartoon sketches to put across very pertinent questions to those involved in the field of arts,” she says.

Chandran says dances that celebrate the timelessness of Indian epics are also worth watching. “‘Pandvani’ by Usha Barle will be an amazing exposition of the ‘Mahabharata’. Kalamandalam Krishnendu’s unusual essaying of Ravana in ‘Koodiyattam Vesham’ is another highlight. This is the first time that this piece is being performed. Gurus have never permitted its performance. So, it is an extremely special premiere. The world premiere of ‘Rakti’ by Swarnamalya Ganesh is another interesting performance foray by this hugely talented artiste, scholar and communicator.”

There’s something for everyone on the calendar. In ‘Bards of South’ by Sreelakshmy Govardhanan, around 35 dancers, including aerial artistes, will perform the traditional (and endangered) dance forms of Kalaripayattu, Yakshaganam and Kathakali.

‘Shakti’, by Ashley Lobo and Navdhara India Dance Theatre, is an Indo-Japanese collaborative piece produced by Serendipity Arts and the Japan Foundation. The performance will have five dancers and music by Japanese artiste Noriko Shakti. The theme of the project is an exploration of energy with a focus on the feminine. There’s ‘Pixel’, a roaring international success from France, which combines a mind-blowing mix of virtuoso hip-hop dance with digital projection. ‘Antigone, Interrupted’, featuring Solène Weinachter of the Scottish Dance Theatre, is a solo work examining “the notion of dissent in democracy, and how the female body can be the target of oppression but also a powerful tool for resistance”, shares Upadhya.

Chandran beckons one to see a dazzling Manipuri troupe that would present a specially-curated performance integrating the crafts of Manipur. “They will be collaborating with lighting designer Gyandev Singh, who has been specially commissioned to add a new layer of magic to the Manipuri dance.”

Contemporary and modern dance finds a place too, with performers including kathak dancer Shalmali Zankar, Odissi dancer Prithvi Nayak, Street O’Classical dancer Swetha Warrier and open style dancer Paramdeep Singh.

On choosing such a varied mix of performances, Upadhya says: “Whether creating or curating, I look for unique aspects in artistes. I’m interested in how they approach and perceive their craft.” She says the effort has been to look at dance not only from the lens of movement, the richness of music, or the literary perspective, but also as a live entity that is actively exchanging, interacting and collaborating with other disciplines and coming up with a novel expression.


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