Preethi Athreya on her performance in Kolkata and contemporary dance

The Chennai-based dancer-choreographer is in town with her traveling exhibition INHERITAGE

Subhadrika Sen Published :  23rd November 2023 11:59 PM   |   Published :   |  23rd November 2023 11:59 PM

Still from the dance

Chennai-based dancer-choreographer Preethi Athreya is set to give her solo performance tomorrow as part of INHERITAGE. Indulge catches up with her about the exhibition and contemporary dance.

Why the name INHERITAGE?

It’s based on two words- Inheritance, which has been inherited and is part of a handed down legacy, and Heritage which are all the things that belong to us. INHERITAGE explores what is personal and what is universal.

Tell us about reading objects.

There are 13 randomly chosen objects from my home. But what makes them important is the memory of the transaction. During lockdown, I wondered about my attachment to them and how they became an extension of myself or bodily extension. Say, your hip is an extension of the chair. It became inevitable to not analyse things from a physical, anatomical, and tangible point. I started mapping objects, origins, history, and how I got them and finished each account with how it fits in my body. These writings became launch pads for movement and creative expression.

How did you fuse a mobile performance with a static installation?

The installation comprises photographs of the objects, a film, and QR codes. It requires the viewer to get into the role of the performer. The viewer is going from one exhibit to another, there is an audio score created through QR codes, and people are sitting, moving, and interacting with these images; in between I will also move in short sequences.

Tell us about your solo performance on the 25th.

It’s a short intimate expression that has nine components strung together where each is a little meditation on an object on display. Sometimes you hear the text but most of the time it's music without instruments.

How do you view contemporary dance in India?

It’s not a standard technique, form, or visual expression. Sometimes it comes from classical roots. Sometimes people shift from other disciplines to the movement discipline. I was a Bharatnatyam dancer. My shift into the experimental space was gradual and had much to do with the female body, gauge, and the role of dance. I’m constantly questioning the way of positioning the body on stage and why move at all?

Do you think contemporary dance is inter-disciplinary?

It is. But we have to understand the meaning. There is cross-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, and multi-disciplinary. Does it mean we employ the grammar of different disciplines in order to perform or the viewer has to view it from the grammar of a particular discipline? In my work, inter-disciplinarity has been an influence. I look at visual arts, composition, colour, perspective, and music in the usage of time.

What is the future of contemporary dance?

Contemporary dance has a wealth of indigenous knowledge and runs a risk of wanting to run away from this knowledge to be transparent to a wider audience.

INHERITAGE is being presented by Prakriti Foundation, Think Arts Festival, and Pickle Factory Foundation till November 25 at the Goethe- Institut Max Mueller Bhavan