HYDERABAD: Céline Pradeu-Kanagasabai embarked on a journey that has taken her from her dance company Relevée in Paris to the shores of the desi-French settlement in Pondicherry and now Hyderabad. Performing her own style, ‘Bharatemporaire’ (Bharatemporary) at Bhaskara auditorium at the Birla planetarium on Tuesday, she combines French contemporary with Bharatanatyam - the two sides of her lineage. Born to a Sri Lankan Tamil father and a French mother, Céline is one of those unique exquisite combinations of a stylish language that is known for its romance and passion and a classical heritage that conforms to a specific meter and dialogue.
In her dance demonstration titled Hybride, Céline explores her newfound self. Having formally learned to dance both styles, she moves to the talam of her own feet whilst her hands move to their own heart-beat. Breaking her demo into segments, she begins by explaining her roots.
The second segment has the aspects of Bharatanatyam written down on the chart while Céline enacts them - Nritta, the hand gestures that add to the dance, Nrittya, gestures that help describe the story, and Abhinaya, the expressions. She further explained about the typical mudras that are used and their significance. However, in her next dance sequence, the mudras metamorph into different expressions. “This isn’t a fusion really because the forms that the dance borrows from aren’t true to their origins. The mudras mean very different things and the story they tell not the typical mythology-based ones.”
As she further elaborates Bharatemporaire, Céline begins to dance with her accessories - a hanging tutu and a hanging bell. “While searching for the dance form, I was inspired by things that don’t touch the ground. Hence the hanging props. I do wear them, but not today.” A clear contrast between contemporary and Bharatemporaire was brought out between two of her dance were the routine was the same but the technique slightly varied. Using the clapping of her feet on the ground (a traditional Bharatanatyam technique), Céline changes the dynamics by using contemporary dance positions while doing it.
“Discovering you’re body centre is very difficult. For in Bharatanatyam, you’re legs are bent making it easier, while in contemporary you’re standing, changing the way you balance yourself when you stamp you feet.”The last segment had Céline’s head ensconced in the hanging bell while she pirouetted and pranced smartly.
Interspersing her dancing with read out text that weaves the story of her journey, Céline did seem to lose out a little on the audience. Struggling with the language and diction, in a few instances, the dancer seemed to find the exercise monotonous. However, her enthusiasm overcame her difficulty when she addressed her audience directly, encouraging them to follow her display of the mudras, piping in, “Oh nobody wants to dance eh?” She paused for a while before concluding her demonstration, inviting queries - and quite a few she did get.
Talking about the experience, she said, “Coming to the home of Bharatanatyam and attempting a new form is risky. But, this is more than just an attempt at a different dance form; for me its about creating my own legacy. And Hybride is an exulting point between my mixed heritage. What’s ultimately important isn’t the dance but that I find my own way.”
Céline will go to five more cities as part of the tour conducted by the Allaince Française before performing her finale, a solo of Bharatemporaire on May 12 in Paris.