A nude dance based painting theatre by Koushik Podder
Dance with theatre goes hand-in-hand and many-a-times contemporary dance movement fits beautifully into theatre scene, making it a fabulous way to express various ideas and emotions. Recently, Kolkata saw an interesting style of installation based painting theatre with contemporary dance elements titled Konflickt – A Journey of Life presented by the talented Koushik Podder who is also the director and founder of Sastrika, a popular arts centre in Kolkata. This one-of-its-kind show was presented at the Pro Studio in Kolkata to a very select audience and was supported by Dr Gregory Moyer from the United States of America as a friendly gesture to Podder.
Konflikt – A Journey of Life was a three-dimensional visual representation of what we more appropriately call human life. It explored the thin line where the three states of mind (unconscious, subconscious and conscious) meets with the three human nature (sattva, rajo and tamo guna) along with the changes of three major phases of life (childhood to youth, youth to young age and young age to old age).
The reflection of the unconscious mind, storehouse of our deep-seated emotions and memories of repressed desires or traumas can be seen in the people of tamo guna. Childhood reflects this fluctuating state of mind that is unable to decide between good or the bad and follows only the biological needs like animals. Youth represents the rajo guna which can be linked with the consciousness of mind having the quality of being focused always on the desired goal. Again, people with sattva guna have rich knowledge of the outer world so the old age mainly projects this guna for having this experience of life. Older people thus reflect on life having the active subconscious state of mind.
Thus, the interplay of these states of mind plays a pivotal role in our life from birth to death. As we pass the three major phases of life, though the choice of our demands keep on changing with the progress of time, the conflict of the mind remains unchanged. This installation play vehemently attached the effects brought by modernisation that is loss of humanity, sensitivity and other moral principles of life. The internal battle of mind in every human with the constant battle with norms of the society does not only increase the amount of conflicts in life but also complicates its layers. This dance play searched of the meaning of life and its purpose, often gets lost in this ever changing world where humans act life mere hollow men whose goals had been lost in the maze of conflict. This play addressed the contemporary issue of our conflicted judgement towards ourselves and others with a nude performance that stands as a strong metaphor of conflicts, complex and multifaceted concept of conflict.
Konflickt – A Journey of Life through light on various different forms of art, the formed used were presented in a very basic and simple way, like installation performance, non-dance theatrical movement, contemporary dance movement, painting, voice and sound, lights, images, music and lots and lots of theatrical elements through character expressions. I spoke to Koushik about this marvellous show and this is what he had to say:
Why did you choose to take the bold step of presenting the show in a nude?
I believe nudity is a rich art so chose it as the main presentation for my show. I feel the truth of human life is always uncovered and my show theme demanded me to be nude. That is why I took this bold step.
What challenges did you face while making Konflikt?
Initially, I had no one wanting to fund and support this show as it was forty five minutes of nude dance theatre. I faced many social and even political issue, no one was ready to give me a venue to stage this concept show. I tried theatres in Delhi, Mumbai and even Kolkata. They all sighted issue saying they cannot promote nudity on stage. I reached a point where I started to have conflict in my own mind as to if I was on the right path or not and then slowly things fell into place and people came forward to support me.
What have you now planned for Konflikt and what else have you been working on?
I am looking for people to help me promote Konflikt in India and abroad and soon we will have more shows of the same. I want people to accept that nude dance theatre is also a form of extraordinary art similar to the Khajuraho and the Konark Temple. Apart from that, I am working on a dance theatre with body and architecture talking of various architectural marvels of India and another dance presentation on shades of human life.
I won’t be wrong if I say this show by Podder developed a totally new language of performance. It expressed feeling without words and used still postures to communicate psychology of various phases of life, sound expression and music played the human psychology and at this show of human canvas the audience turned into performers. The movement of Koushik made the audience feel the pain of the characters of the play and the truth of life was revealed by Koushik who is a highly artistic artiste.
For those of you who don’t know this wonderful artist, it is time you do. Koushik was born and brought up in Kolkata, India and has completed his postgraduation in psychology. He is trained in various Indian classical dance forms such as Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Manipuri, Indian folk dances and Indian traditional art forms of Kalarippayattu, Chhau and Thang-ta. He also has a strong grip in contemporary dance forms. He is one dancer who is deeply committed to the cause ‘the search of new body languages.’ He founded Sastrika, a unit of performing arts which is the fruit of his experiences, he has varied experience of working with various eminent gurus worldwide. He has participated in more than 1700 shows world over exploring his work in multidisciplinary ways such as theatre in education, dance to theatre, installation performance, psycho-physical theatre, visual art, dance theatre, body art and human sculpture. He also has great experience in teaching at many educational institutes and organizations in different parts of the world.
Koushik has been a part of many renowned dance and theatre festivals in India some of them include, Baharat Ranga Mohotsav by the prestigious National School of Drama (NSD), Khajuraho dance festival, Konark dance festival, Uday Shankar dance festival, Paschim Banga Naatya Utsav, All India Kathak dance festival and many more.
Konflikt – A Journey of Life is a pathbreaking show, a performance of such type has never been seen in India before. It is very aesthetically and creatively presented and performed by Podder. I hope and pray Koushik gets to fulfil his dreams and can take this show to all the art lovers because India is the land of Kamasutra and nude dance theatre is not something that we should be shy or ashamed of.
The show concept design and direction was done by Koushik Podder, music was by Shovon Dev Mondal, lights were designed by Dhanapati Mondal, photography by Anupam Guha, videography by Shubajit Dutta, installation was by Tulika Podder, the entire production was managed by Shyamalima Bagchi, Koushik especially thanked Arijit Pyne, Arpan Das, Namita Podder and Krishnendu Dutta Roy for all the help and support.
Sandip Soparrkar holds a doctorate in world mythology folklore, is a World Book Record holder, a well known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with three National Excellence awards, one National Achievement Award and Dada Saheb Phalke award by the Government of India. He can be contacted on [email protected]