28(Fri) September, 20:00 / 29(Sat) September, 20:00 Performance

Padmini Chettur

Choreography – Padmini Chettur
Music – Maarten Visser
Light – Vijay Saravanan
Text – Vivek Narayanan
Dancers – Aditi Sharad Bheda, Padmini Chettur
Co-production: MMCA (Museum for Modern and Contemporary Arts – Seoul)
Supported by IFA

Varnam‭. (‬2016‭) ‬‮ ‬”Completely hot for you now am I‭, ‬my Lord‭. ‬How do you continue to ignore me‭?‬‮” ‬h–Mohamaana Varnam in Bhairavi‭  ‬Ragam as translated by Vivek Narayanan‭.‬

The‭ ‬‮ ‬’Varnam’‮ ‬ in the traditional dance repertoire of BharataNatyam occupies the central position of any performance‭. ‬It is a masterful pulling together of the narrative and the abstract‭. ‬The opening lines of the Mohanaama Varnam drag us immediately and relentlessly into the complex world of heroine in the classical Indian dance‭. ‬A story of lost love‭, ‬abandonment and pining‭. ‬It is‭ ‬also in its original interpretation a glorified description of god‮ ‬’s divine love and lovemaking‭.‬

In this work that re-engages this iconic material and music‭, ‬two dancers begin to unravel the meaning of the text‭, ‬to re-physicalise the known language‭. ‬Into the grid of the Varnam they bring references of contemporary text and their own personal voices of‭ ‬womanhood‭, ‬body and sexuality‭.‬

Whereas in its traditional form the dancer and the music tell simultaneous literal stories‭, ‬here the performers search for the parallel‭, ‬often dissonant voice‭. ‬The singing and speaking voices‭, ‬the old and new aesthetics start to provoke a conversation about our own dance past‭. ‬Questions that critique our notions of inheritance and collective histories‭.‬

Eventually the movement language that has been recognized for decades as the‭ ‬‮ ‬”Varnam‮ ‬” is replaced by a body vocabulary that matches the rawness that the music holds‭. ‬Critiquing the content‭, ‬ignoring references‭, ‬proposing compositional possibilities that‭ ‬lay bare a musical masterwork for audiences far removed from its content‭.‬

Varnam‮ ‬…

The work has been reformed into a shorter duet version for this Jejak-Tabi Exchange KL in DPAC Theatre‭.‬

Artist Profile

Padmini Chettur began her contemporary dance career in 1990 as a member of the troupe of Chandralekha, radical modernist choreographer, who dealt with deconstructing the form of Bharatanatyam. In 2001, Padmini formed her own practice that shifted choreographic tradition to a minimalistic language, visually translating philosophical concepts such as time and space and relating them to the contemporary experience. Deriving vocabularies from phenomenology, cultural studies, insect movements, astronomy, physiotherapy and sports, she created a taut visual language, where her approach to movement research is almost scientific in rigueur. Padmini has forged an overarching creative approach that pulls focus to the form and movement of the body. She made the decision not to train formally abroad, pointing to her well-formed politics. Her work, highly abstract in nature, is rooted in the uniquely engaged dance community of Chennai.

Performance Schedule

28(Fri) September, 20:00 / 29(Sat) September, 20:00


Damansara Performing Arts Center (DPAC) , DPAC Theatre