HYDERABAD : Preeti Vasudevan took a good five years to bring her newest project, ‘Stories By Hand’, to fruition. It all started when the Chennai-born dancer, who is trained in Bharatanatyam, signed up for a residency programme at New York Live Arts (NYLA), an organisation that focuses on movement-based arts.
“One day while discussing the ideas for a new project, I was asked if I could use hand gestures as a medium of expression, perhaps after they saw me using a lot of hand gestures on my own while talking,” she shares. One thing led to another, and soon enough she premiered the show at NYLA last November, accompanied by collaborators like Paul Kaiser (literary dramatist), Robert Wiezel (lighting designer) and Paul Jacob (composer).
Down the memory lane
‘Stories By Hand’ is a direct consequence of her exposure to Western contemporary dance, after having been mentored by experts like Don Redlich, Sarah Stackhouse and the late French ballerina Violette Vardy, plus her subsequent course on dance studies at Laban Centre, London.
However, staying true to her roots (she was trained by the acclaimed dancers VP Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan), Preeti has based this performance on Bharatanatyam itself, incorporating basic hand movements of the dance form into this show. An autobiographical performance, it is divided into three parts — Relationships, The Dancing Body and Death — and had its national premiere in Chennai at The Park’s New Festival. While the first part explores the effect of family relations on her life, the second portrays the challenges faced by a dancer. The third talks about a personal tragedy.
Making sense of it all
“The main aim is to show the important role gestures play in our lives and how it is heavily associated with memory,” she says, adding that this is a kind of storytelling that the audience will be able to relate to, as there will be corresponding narration as well. “The whole point is to immerse the audience into the stories, that have been chosen randomly from my life and have no preset sequence. The viewers should be able to connect the dots themselves at the end of the show,” she signs off.The event is on September 18 at 7 pm at Savitribai Phule Auditorium, University of Hyderabad