Manmatha – The making

Associate Director and Choreographer, Madhuri Upadhya talks about the making one of her works – “Manmatha”. Read on…

Manmatha started with a specific direction and purpose of exploring  the shringara rasa and romanticizing love. I believe that love is the thread that connects all of us essentially as energies, existing in time in space. One still is helpless and is possible to lose his/her ego surrendering to love, which makes it a very powerful and divine emotion. To understand this, I started off the process initially with technique training. As the dancers were all from diverse backgrounds Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Ballet, cinematic, Mohiniyattam, contemporary and even skating, I had to condition them all to move beautifully together.
1.First stage –training in Kathak…I was very sure that I wanted to use Kathak movement technique in my choreography. The dancers were made to understand twirls, footwork, bodywork, speed and connections with each other-space-music and the theme.

2.Second stage- discussions…To indulge in the concept, it was necessary to share and introspect. Relating their everyday life experiences to the Nayikas and interpreting love even during challenges was a topic. Exercises on object relativity which had deep, impactful and life changing emotions attached to, were talked about. Script and poems on stories of love and heartbreaks were written.

3. Third stage- choreography….When the mind and bodies of the dancers were ready, I went to the drawing board. I started the
choreographic design of the dance. Movements, patterns, textures, form, division of space, rhythm all melting into the music and the dancer’s bodies. This stage is the physical execution of the expression involving a lot of experimentation.

4.Fourth stage- mythology….Manmatha, his story in mythology, his character and his purpose of existence was the focus. The male dancer who is the protagonist of the dance piece had to imbibe the power of Manmatha. I worked on his personality to strike the chord of love in people and magically change everything he walks into .Sometimes he is a form, sometimes he’s an energy merging, mingling, dancing and leading everyone to find love.

5.Fifth stage- understanding Rasa… I wanted the dancers to completely be lost in themselves oblivious to the audience. They are not communicating but simply experiencing and romanticizing. They are rejoicing their existence and uniting with their higher self, completely letting go of their identity.
I Just have penned down few stages briefly but the whole voyage of choreographing Manmatha has been a revelation. It has been a process of detachment, undoing the knots of expectation and completely surrendering to love for me!!!


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