The journey of individual mudras to ensemble…

I have been a classical dancer for almost fifteen years. Classical dance has always been about discipline, certain specific postures, and mudras, depicting different meanings. After I started the program, performing became a noun with multiple meanings.

I selected five emotions to create an initial version of an emotive collage. Those five emotions were to be discovered further using different postures (mudras). Each posture depicted a particular emotion based on my own interpretation.

The next stage was to create a performance to bring those emotions into a continuity pattern. The order in which those emotion-based postures followed was based on my own personal thoughts. What made a difference was the location we were performing in. The residency being carried out in a studio space had a different approach altogether than performing in any other random location.

To take the process further, two locations were to be shortlisted outside of the studio space, to understand the impact the surroundings were having over the five postures. One of my selected locations was in an interior staircase, while the other was outside around a tree. I performed at both these places multiple times, and the impact of the performance was entirely different. I tried to incorporate the elements in the surroundings to improvise the postures at both locations. The location in the staircase was what I went ahead with to practice and improvise my composition further.

The next stage was to overlap all of our individual compositions into an ensemble. It wasn’t a straightaway step we took, rather it also took various permutations and combinations to understand how the performances of all four participants were impacting each other.

We started with combinations of two participants at a time, to which I responded differently each of the three times. The next variation was three at a time, wherein a person kept moving out as soon as they were over with one set and the remaining person took over. The last combinations to be explored were when all four of us performed together and what happens if one of us stopped.

This routine led me to familiarize myself with my own routing in a more detailed way as well as what my Co-participants were performing. It was after this stage, that an actual ensemble was getting created, and with certain improvisations within our own routine and significant inputs and insights from our facilitator, we were able to create an ensemble. We practiced the ensemble numerous times to perform it on the final day of our residency program.

It was a unique chain of events altogether. From having static postures to elaborating those postures based on location and furthermore how a routine varied when four people were performing together to finally creating an ensemble from the combination of all four.