Vikram Iyengar: Critiquing stereotypes in Indian dance and moving beyond

Posted by Kaahon Desk On November 3, 2018

Vikram Iyengar is a full-time dancer, choreographer, theatre director and part-time pusher of the limits of art as a collective form. He’s one of the most important artists in contemporary dance and performing arts scenario representing India in the global arena. He shares his powerful visionary discourses in the context of classical Indian dance forms (especially Kathak) and contemporary dance and the polymics inherent within.

Vikram Iyengar: Critiquingstereotypes in Indian dance and indicating a journey beyond

Vikram expresses how the Kathak as an artistic dance form has been made inaccessible for the general people. His interest grew in the formative years of Ranan. He worked towards bringing classical dance forms like Kathak and spoken theatre together for years. He understands the subtle nuances of the word ‘Contemporary Dance’ in Indian theatres. With the help and insights of Preethi Athreya, he has acquired a greater understanding of the world of contemporary dance. He shares his views about horizontal and vertical stances and how Kathak stands out in this regard from other dance forms like Ballet. He doesn’t have an inclination to adhere to a particular dance style while conveying his complex ideas and is always ready to question the concept of beauty and ugliness in this world. We also come to know how Preethi Athreya helped him in developing a critical eye for art and how he is increasingly critiquing different modes, conventions and theories of it. He asserts his belief that Kathak’s essential beauty and salient features should not be traded with inferior versions just in order to cater to the sepectacle and attractiveness.

Vikram talks about the political power dance wields. He alludes to a recent series of performances in Ahmedabad to show how Kathak and dance in general can be used to claim a space and give a political statement against fascism. He further goes on describing the subtle differences between classical and contemporary dance forms. We come to know about the hard realities and resource crunch companies face while staging a production. He discloses his reasons for starting The Pickle Factory because of the lack of any venues in India to observe at body movements. He inspires artists to be more self-confident and self-reliant against hostile capitalist greed. He talks about how dancers are intervening spaces that were not allotted to them in the first place and how dancers today are blatantly disregarding the need for an audience. We are introduced to a new dance form called ‘ Popup Duets’.

Vikram Iyengar: Critiquingstereotypes in Indian dance and indicating a journey beyond

He laments the absence of a critical consensus and histological knowledge of dance in Indian theatre directors and actors and calls for inclusion of ‘movement directors’ in India. He believes in the specificity of knowledge and a clear vision while experimenting.

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