CELEBRATING FLAMENCO & KATHAK

 CELEBRATING FLAMENCO & KATHAK

The Spanish Flamenco and Indian classical dance Kathak have many similarities, infact if one digs into the history of Flamenco one will find Indian roots. Artists often collaborate and present shows with the two dynamic dance forms. Renowned Kathak exponent Anonna Guha pirouettes and actress danseuse Paris Laxmi’s Flamenco moves enthralled the audience at a recent show titled ‘Confluence’, which is slated to travel around India in the next few months with performances at CSMVS and British Museum’s India & the World. I spoke with Annona Guha about this interesting collaboration:

How did this alliance take place?
Honestly it happened purely by chance. Paris Laxmi who is from France was invited to perform Flamenco at the Kalaghoda Arts Festival in 2017 which I had curated. As a curator, I felicitated her post her performance and we impromptu did some footwork, which received spontaneous applause from the audience. That is when our festival director Ms. Brinda Miller germinated the idea of a collaborative show.


Anonna Guha and Paris Laxmi

Tell me more about the show ‘Confluence’?
The opening performance signified the aura of individual and independent dance styles of Kathak and Flamenco on Tarana. Yet the performances identify the similarities between the two distinctive dance styles thereby reflecting that ‘we are all like other people’ in this changing world.
The second item, was a Flamenco performance on a pure Flamenco piece sung by Camaron de la Isla who was considered a national treasure to Spain, is full of passion and fire as the dancer explores the soulful expression or “el duende” typical to Flamenco dance style.
Followed a performance that revives the bonding that was depicted in the opening presentation. We came together with warmth and love depicting cultural exchange, we both retained the individual identity, the pride in distinctive styles, yet blended and bonded the two arts in a flow of universal togetherness and permanent happiness.
Next performance moved on to the emotion of Love, the feeling of being deceived and the pain that Love brings in a relationship. Emotions remain the same across the world and the next performance with Live music accompaniment depicts a woman’s emotion of love, hurt and courage; to deal with difficult situations with one’s beloved – truly depicting Globalisation. Main Tore Sang Na Jaon is the story of a woman who feels let down in Love – presented in Kathak and Flamenco style with Fusion elements. Vocals by Sangita Sawant, Percussion Atul Godse and Shailesh Sawant.
The finale of confluence was called ‘Rejoice’, we performed on Flamenco music, where we exchanged and accepted each other’s styles, and also appreciate and cheered for each other, to create everlasting bonding.


Anonna Guha and Paris Laxmi

Kathak Flamenco fusions have happened before. How was ‘Confluence’ different?
The dictionary meaning of ‘Originality’ is the ability to think independently and creatively. And that is precisely how our performance Confluence was conceptualised and executed. There is cultural diffusion and integration of new elements and thoughts happening every day in every sphere of life as in the case of art and dance. So I believe the treatment and the delivery are of prime importance. Our presentation is called Confluence – process of merging – and this time we used a combination of pre -recorded music and live music.
We used both Tarana and authentic Spanish Song. This itself signified globalisation and going beyond being ethnocentric, where we respect the music of each dance style and come together to create dance items on Hindustani Sangeet plus Flamenco music.
Then were several moments where we engaged the audience with our dance repertoire and my dialogue with them – as one does during a Kathak presentation – which made the audience participate and made them enthusiastic.
That apart we used the material culture of Spain – Flamenco and India-Kathak the Fan and Odhni/ Dupatta respectively in one of our presentations which added to the visual, created bonding and exemplified the cultural exchange that is possible across countries; while appreciating diversity but also retaining one’s own identity.
So if I have to specify how was Confluence different from other Kathak Flamenco Fusions, I would say to me personally the measure of a dance performance, apart from the skill of the dancers, is the audience’s spontaneous response, their applause. We were blessed to hear, see and feel their appreciation, so that is significant for me.

In collaboration often there are differences in opinion, tell me how did you settle it?
Since both of us reside in different cities, a lot of our discussions, rehearsals are virtual, telephonic and we come together to rehearse physically at my place, before the final performance. So working out our dates is something we really had to work hard on.
Honestly I will say we both have had very little difference of opinion because both of us are pretty easy going and Laxmi is very creative, has a great sense of rhythm and has a lot of clarity, which is a boon. I recollect I had a different opening music in mind and Paris Laxmi had another one. We finally decided to go with the one she had in mind because it was a stronger opening and I will say it was definitely a good idea. I suggested the live music part and the depiction of the mood and emotion through that and she was happy to go along with it
I have been groomed by my guru my father Dr. Tushar Guha to always look at the bigger picture rather than being petty, so that helps during collaborations such as these. Also both of us are very good at what we do so, we appreciate and trust each other’s way of doing things. I am also quite particular about whom I collaborate with. I believe I need to have a similar approach in life with the people I collaborate with, because then even when there are differences of opinions, we agree to disagree and yet work together towards achieving the goal we believe in, while enjoying the journey made, to reach that goal.

Sandip Soparrkar holds a doctorate in world mythology folklore from Pacific University USA, an honorary doctorate in performing arts from the National American University, He is a World Book Record holder,
a well-known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honored 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]

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