Singapore-based dance company Chowk comes to India with their new production, Pallavi with Stillness
Chowk Productions, a dance company formed by Singapore-based Odissi dancer Raka Maitra, will be performing the third and final part of The Pallavi Series, a classical dance trilogy at ICCR, Kolkata on March 1. This will be their third performance in India, after Ashoka University in Sonepat, Haryana on February 26 and the India International Centre, Delhi on February 27.
Pallavi with Stillnes is the last act, after Pallavi and Space and Pallavi in Time and focuses on the torso movements, balance and gaze of the performer. While the first one was based on the primary position in Odissi- called Chowk, the second act experimented with the scope of the tribhang, or the standing stance which is commonly found on Hindu temple structures. The word Pallavi literally means ‘elaboration' and stands for the complex choreography which Raka Maitra, artistic director of Chowk creates in this series.
“I was trying to develop a vocabulary by isolating movements from the classical form, and developing the individual movements into full-fledged original pieces. Here, you will find that I have broken down the torso stance and elaborated the body movements. Our performance is as much about the body postures in Odissi -the physicality, as it is about the technique,” she says.
Chowk was formed by Maitra in 2007, with the outlook of creating contemporary and experimental artistic productions, derived from Odissi. Although they have toured the world extensively, with several internationally acclaimed productions, such as The Platform, The Second Sunrise, You Cannot Look Away, this will be their first performance in India.
The idea of staging a classical production germinated while Raka was on a tour with her group, with another production, and an onlooker at the Esplanade Theatre Studio asked her if the production was inspired from Odissi. “Being in Singapore opened my eyes to the world, as I got an opportunity to see a lot of performances derived from the traditional dance form. I was especially influenced by the Indonesian dance culture,” informs Raka. “But I never believed in fusion. Classical dance forms are very well knit in themselves and cannot be blended with other forms,” she adds.
The hour-long dance performance will have Uma Katju, Caroline and Lakshman KP, as the musicians. “I usually compose all my pieces in silence. Although there will be musicians, the element of instrumental music will be reduced to a minimum,” says the Calcutta-born danseuse Raka, who received her initial Odissi training from Children’s Little Theatre, Dhakuria, and later from Madhavi Mudgal and Daksha Mahruwala.
The two other Singapore-based dancers who will be performing the dance piece- Sandhya Suresh and Karishma Nair, are both trained in other forms of dances too, such as Bharatanatyam and ballet. While Sandhya is a manager, teacher and dancer who became a part of Chowk five years ago, Karishma joined the group in 2016 and has collaborated with the team in various other international productions.
Pallavi with Stillness will be staged at ICCR on March 1, 6:30 pm
Pictures by Grisha Parikh