Less than a couple of months back, what started as a casual conversation over lunch blossomed into a memorable and gratifying endeavor. The driving factor was that we did not see art as mere entertainment but as a vehicle to elevate everyone involved, and bring about human efflorescence in all its dimensions. There were no other expectations. This kind of freedom is very rare in collaboration.
We decided to come together, share our techniques & give ourselves the liberty to move within the space & find new ways to express ourselves. Little did we know, what would emerge was a contemporary dance performance in the Margam format. Margam, a framework for a traditional Bharatanatyam repertoire, is a well-thought out plan to approach a dance performance. Created in South India in the early 19th century, it is set to facilitate the physical and spiritual journey towards self-discovery through dance for the performer; and goes beyond that by harmonizing the experiences of the performer and the connoisseurs as well.
In the initial stages of our collaboration, there was a little apprehension with each side taking a cautious approach so as to not affect the sentiments of the other. It’s born out a respect for each other. But creativity craves freedom. Early on in the process, we decided to substitute misgiving with trust and in the process there was perceptiveness to each other’s feelings, reactions & overall energy. We learnt how to listen more. We also afforded ourselves the license to make mistakes, if there was genuine scope for innovation. This provided a safe environment for us to explore new movements, techniques and push the boundaries of our art forms freely without inhibition. We figured out new ways to communicate, new ways to express ourselves, to be more sensitive to each other. An amazing dialogue emerged!
The exciting factor about coming together with Dark Circles was that our toolkits were mutually exclusive. On the one hand, we had the ancient storytelling art form with a wide range of techniques, poetry and elaborate gestures to communicate deep emotions. And then there is Joshua’s unique ways of using viewpoints in developing intriguing phrases, finding new meanings for familiar narratives and skillfully transforming something very familiar into unexpected; most of the times simply by digging out something what was already there but remained unnoticed. There was a lot of reciprocity. Every technique we learnt was a valuable tool that just changed the way we dance & our attitude towards it.
Joshua’s rehearsal ritual starts with an hour of company class each morning, where he guides the dancers to become fully alive to the present, increase awareness and intuitively welcome movement within the space. At the end of the session, we are left with every cell in our bodies awoken and ready to burst into movement. With his calm personality, non-hierarchical approach to choreography & working with his dancers, he creates a safe space to move and create without judgment. It is a privilege to work with an outstanding dancer like Chadi. His humility and dedication towards the effort is quite admirable. Chintan and I are both grateful for all the talented dancers at Dark Circles for letting us into their beautiful world of dancing.
This has been a collaboration like none other. With faith on the ever-expanding potential of our art forms, we connected our dance forms from the inside out. We highlighted and celebrated our differences. We honed in on our similarities not just in the form & external appearance, but in the philosophy of how the art form approaches any subject. What manifested was an artful & seamless integration of our vocabularies, ideas, and visualizations. A dialogue!