we used to see this

performance at pace university, nyc, september 2014, photo by darial sneed

performance at pace university, nyc, september 2014, photo by darial sneed

Artistic Statement: 

I have been obsessed with bharata natyam in seemingly contradictory ways since the age of four. Sometimes I was fixated because my parents pushed me to learn the art form at an early age; sometimes it was because I loved my Guru like a second Mom; sometimes my preoccupation stemmed from my dis/connection to the mythological stories we would interpret; sometimes I was obsessed because I felt conflicted over some of the characters we would play; sometimes I felt passionate about bharata natyam because the structure of the form grounded me in its geometrical shapes and mathematical rhythms; sometimes I became upset over the fact that whenever I performed, I had to put on layers of face make-up that was ten shades lighter than my own darker brown skin; sometimes I would muse at length on why I preferred to listen to rap music rather than classical Indian music when I wasn’t rehearsing; sometimes I would get preoccupied by comments that non-Indian audience members would say to me after a performance like, “Oh, you look like those ancient Indian temple statues!” when I really didn’t feel like one. Sometimes I obsess over bharata natyam because I feel guilty for practicing a dance form that has played a significant role in destroying devadasi ways of life; sometimes it is because I read my family’s caste name, Mudaliyar, in South Asian dance history books and am haunted over how my ancestors might have played a role in the conservative Hindu nationalist movements of India. My relationship to bharata natyam has always been complex. we used to see this strives to reflect this complexity.

Description:

Join Meena as she journeys through fragments of bharata natyam, revisiting historical archives, rituals, sounds, and spaces, through a contemporary lens. From multiple audience perspectives, we used to see this creates at once the intimacy of a salon within a theatre space. Can she de-orientalize the dancer?

Solo or duet. 30-minutes.

Credits: 

Choreographer: Meena Murugesan 

Research process in collaboration with the DesiJam Dance Collective (Sheetal Gandhi, Anusha Kedhar, Cynthia Ling Lee, Ulka Mohanty, Shyamala Moorty, Meena Murugesan)

Performers: Shyamala Moorty, Meena Murugesan

Composer: d. Sabela grimes

Set Designer: Rafa Esparza

Lighting Designer: Pablo Santiago

Advising Committee: Lionel Popkin, Janet O’Shea, David Roussève

Excerpt: