Experience the flowers’ conversations at Petal Stories dance show

 Experience the flowers’ conversations at Petal Stories dance show

Mumbai dance lovers recently saw a very beautifully conceptualised dance show choreographed by two very talented dancer-choreographers from the city – Odissi exponent Daksha Mashruwala and Bharatnatyam exponent Anusree Bonnerjee with writer-poet Sudipta Dhruva and singer-music composer Kaustuv Kanti Ganguli. This collaborative dance venture, a brilliantly put together show was titled Petal Stories. The 45-min ballet had 12 dancers.

Petal Stories
Daksha Mashruwala and Anusree Bonnerjee

What do poetry, music and dance have in common? They each employ form, breath, flow and mindfulness that translates into rhythm, pace and movement. And when you combine the three forms, you can capture anything the imagination can conjure. Petal Stories, a beautifully choreographed spectacle, reached out to audiences with its unique perspective and the magic it created with different classical dance and music forms along with poetry, as the voices of flowers came alive. Post show I spoke with the duo about petal stories and this is what they had to say:

How did the idea of Petal Stories come around?
Anusree Bonnerjee (AB)- Daksha di and I have been wanting to collaborate and create work for a while now. Petal stories began over a casual conversation over coffee wherein Daksha di stated she had been wanting to do the stories around the Parijat flower. So, maybe we could look at different Indian stories, but then the thought occurred, why not just take up different flowers and their characteristic qualities and look at stories associated with those aspects. For the most part choose flowers pertinent to our Indian way of life, though post a brainstorming with our scriptwriter Sudipta Dhruva, we could not resist the choice of the story inspired by Kahlil Gibran.
Daksha Mashruwala (DM)- Parijat is the only flower that is picked up from the ground on which it falls before sunrise and can be offered to the deity, this fact intrigued me a lot. I found a mythological story around this and so scripted it visualising the dance. It was to be one amongst others in my earlier production Crossing Oceans. I had an urge to stage it and hence I proposed it to Anusree in one of our conversations. We went back and forth with many stimulating ideas and finally decided on the Petal stories.

Petal Stories

How difficult was it to make it a joint effort?
AB – On the contrary, the joint effort was a boon. While each of us has a very distinct choreography style, there is a very strong synergy in our thought process, our aesthetics and sensibilities and most importantly a great mutual respect for each other. The process of creation was a wonderful journey of learning and growth.
DM – Luckily we matched intellectually, and our aesthetics are similar in many ways. Hence the joint venture helped a lot in the huge amount of work to be done in a production layered with so many different forms. It was indeed a huge learning too for both of us.

Petal Stories

How and why did you choose your team?
AB – We went with our core team of dancers from our respective dance companies namely Kaishiki Dance Academy and Drutam Dance Ideas Lab, with choices of roles being done in thought through manner in keeping with each of their dance styles.
From Kaishiki we had Namrata Mehta, Siddhi Waikar, Nivedita Ravishankar, Anuradha. From Drutam it was Nilesh Singha, Ayan Banerjee, Triya Bonnerjee, Sohini Dasgupta, Anjali Nigam and our guest artiste Alapayani Dey. Then there was Namaha Mazoomdar who was the common factor in both teams.
DM – We have a good group of performing students who are part of repertory and I take them mainly based on their availability for odd-timed rehearsals since choreographing new item takes a lot of time.

Petal Stories

What problems did you face to make the show see the light of the day?
AB – The Pandemic delayed it by two years but beyond that we did not face any other hurdle. We both took a leap of faith where the funds were concerned, and I believe the universe responded by bringing us sponsors and donors as the fund support required for this.
DM – Yes, it was mainly the pandemic, initially, we had decided to stage it in April/May 2020, we had to drop the idea and the uncertainty of relaxing the lockdown for stage performance was frustrating. Also, we were worried on how to fund for the significant cost of recording of the music, the big team of professional performers of the Kaishiki and Drutam ensemble, new costumes, lights etc. Sometimes, things happen with gracious, unexpected support from the corporate as well as the well-wishers who totally trust our work and intentions.

Petal Stories

What is the next step for Petal Stories?
AB – We are hoping to have many more shows within the country and like most of our audiences said, take it International as well.
DM- Firstly we are looking for a proper feedback, we have another show lined up in the city in few weeks and then the travel will begin and we do plan to take the production further by reaching out to people with many shows, in different cities and countries.
This show was inspired by beautiful flowers which surround us and it took us into the inner world of five different flowers and the stories that define each of them. Their stories are hidden in the Indian mythology, folklore and in the poetry of famous poets like Rabindra Nath Tagore and Khalil Gibran and in the beauty of our hearts too. Each flower has its own significance and special message to us and when captured through dance, poetry and music it all came alive on stage. If you get to hear that this show is near you, then go and do not miss a chance to experience the flowers talk to you.

Sandip Soparrkar holds a doctorate in world mythology folklore from Pacifica 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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