Performance: Putana and I
Director: Sanjukta Wagh
Duration: 00:20:40; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 11.087; Saturation: 0.207; Lightness: 0.125; Volume: 0.089; Cuts per Minute: 0.145
Summary: The Gati Summer Dance Residency 2012 offered five emerging choreographers an opportunity to work with experienced mentors in the field of dance, theatre and sound design. It was held in New Delhi, from 21st April to 22nd June 2012. During the nine weeks, the residents developed their own individual choreographic works. The resident choreographers came from multifarious performance backgrounds including Contemporary dance, Kathak, Manipuri, Bharatanatyam as well as Theatre. This year's residents were Divya Vibha Sharma (Bombay), Rakesh Mps (Bangalore), Sanjukta Wagh (Bombay), Debanjali Biswas (Kolkata) and Sunitha (Bangalore). The mentors were theatre director Sankar Venketeshwaran from Kerala, German choreographers Susanne Linke and Urs Dietrich, and Swiss sound artist POL. The Residency concluded with the final showcase of the residents' works on 21st and 22nd June 2012, at Sri Ram Centre, New Delhi.
Arushi Singh’s research was analyzing the choreographic process of each dancer at this year’s Residency. It involved intensively documenting each mentor’s class and rehearsal process of the residents, supported with continued conversations with the residents and mentors. It has led her to shed light on the choreographic journey of each resident including their pre-expressivities, the preliminary ideas for the piece they wanted to develop, the process of developing their movement vocabulary which moved in and out of methods that they already were trained in as well as those they inculcated from collaborative work with mentors and fellow residents, to the very end of finalizing their pieces by engaging in other aspects of their performance such as props and sound.
Sanjukta’s story is one that depicts a cyclical evolution in a dancer’s journey, to make the dance she does, her own. She is originally trained in Kathak, under Guru Rajashree Shirke. While working as a professional performer and choreographer of Kathak, Sanjukta felt an estrangement with the form’s bounded nature. However, when she went to Trinity Laban School in London for a year to learn Contemporary dance, she saw how Kathak was being distorted into a ‘costumed’ version. From thereon, she took it upon herself to reconnect with and rediscover Kathak, all over again.
Sanjukta tells the story of Putana through a confluence of spoken word and movement. The intention to be a kathaka, a storyteller reciting stories with expository gestures and movements through abhinaya and pure dance or nritta is closely associated with the memory of the Kathak form itself.
Shri Ram Centre
In Kathak, the dancer herself has to have a precise connection with accompanying musicians as the dance is highly systematized in both abhinaya and pure dance or nritta. Controlling emotions and brilliant dance patterns of quick movements and staccato beats of feet animates Kathak. This control is administered and sometimes led by the musical accompaniment. Foot rhythms are regulated by basic syllables called tatkar. The dancer is accompanied by the mridanga or pakhawaj with deep tones like distant thunder, which adds grandeur to the exposition of footwork or tatkar. In ‘Putana and I’, Sanjukta is her own musical accomplice, singer and creator of rhythm. The absence of quicksilver movement of feet in tatkar is met by its presence on the sound score. The sound score includes recordings of Sanjukta vocally reciting the rhythmic syllables of the tatkar with or without ghungroo, interspersed with humming a lullaby on stage. Therefore, in the very same moment, the strains of ghungroo and tatkar are present and absent. They invoke the memory of Kathak, and at the same time in their displacement from the dance itself, help in highlighting a new body vocabulary through which Sanjukta becomes Putana.
Sanjukta’s use of sound is very deeply connected with the intention of showcasing her bodily engagement with Putana. She explores sounds through her own body. As Sanjukta introduces the viewers to Putana, one hears the sounds of sucking that is incorporated from the text of A.K Ramanujan’s Mythologies 1 (Suck me dry, drink my venom... “).