Madhuri Updahya on her choreographic piece “Manmatha”
As a choreographer my thoughts have always leaned towards combining aesthetics of painting and dance almost like giving picture frames animation. My line of research has always been on 2 dimensionality exploring thematic possibilities linearly and also in lines placed at a choreographic space. Personal stories of dancers inspire me, which I like to romanticize and share with my audience.
While developing this dance piece the process involved technique training of the classical dance Kathak which included twirls, footwork, body angles, gaze and attitude. This helped them understand curves in space, grace, circular and connected movements.
This set of dancers came from diverse movement backgrounds like Ballet, Mohiniattam, Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Salsa, Cinematic, Contemporary dance and even Skating. As a choreographer this gave me tremendous opportunity to explore their strengths and weaknesses. I devised many exercises to use their diverse training to develop many sections of improvisation, especially for Manmatha as sometimes he’s a form and sometimes he’s pure energy.
Lot of personal stories were exchanged of romance, of their idea of an ideal man, of everyday life challenges and finding love in them. The activities included “Object Relativity” to observe the kind of memory, feeling and imagery it creates.
The process also explored dancers being unaware of the audience while being in a trans like state. The entire time they had to stay connected to Manmatha, oblivious to the power drawing them.
The challenge of the dance sequence was to stylize the whole presentation to bring out the shringara rasa in the audience…