Be Part Of Improvised Dance Theatre In Mumbai

The two-day, hour-long performances will be held by city-based contemporary dance group Project Meraki on Februrary 6 and 7, 2014 at The Hive

Pop Team February 6, 2022
Present Bodies

You’ve seen improvised comedy, even improvised theatre and even improvised dance. Now a small collective of dancers and performance artists from Mumbai-based Project Meraki are combining the disciplines of improvisation in comedy, theatre and dance for their two-day show called Present Bodies to be held on Feburary 6 and 7, 2014 at Bandra’s newest culture hub in The Hive. The outdoor terrace show will be performed by multi-discipline artists - contemporary dancer and pre-school teacher Dipna Daryanani, danseuse and engineer Chandana Sarma, and the youngest dancer in the troupe Leon Pinto. They will be collaborating with dancer Maithily Bhupatkar fpor the show and will be joined on stage by guitarist Akarsh Ethos, to who’s strumming the trio will be taking cues from the audience to create a improvised performance. We spoke to Daryanani about the genesis of Project Meraki and what the we can expect at Present Bodies.

Q-1. Take us through the genesis of Project Meraki.

Project Meraki is a team of four contemporary dancers/movers and inter disciplinary artists in-progress - Chandana Sarma, me, Gopal Agarwal and Leon Pinto. We started out in February 2013. Meraki in Greek is to do something with soul, creativity, or love; to put something of oneself into ones work. This is what brought us together; and is our mission and vision.

As of now we have three divisions - workshops (We work with educators, adults, movers, non movers, children, basically anybody who is interested in the world of movement), productions (Creating performances in collaboration with other artists as well as just with the core team) and our monthly Improvisation Club (We wanted to explore what it’s like when varied art forms stop existing in respective silos, what happens when a dancer, a writer or a painter are put together in the same space and given absolute freedom to create. Is it chaotic? Is it expansive? To explore these questions we invite artists of every style to come create, observe, witness, question, answer, improvise on a monthly basis with us)

Present Bodies 1

Q-2. What are the Present Bodies series of performances?

It’s a series of improvised performances which we plan to take to different spaces, cities and in collaboration with different artists. Simply put, improvisation is the art of being present. It is an approach which is practiced to find new vocabulary, to surprise oneself as an artist, to push beyond already established patterns by musicians, dancers, vocalists, theatre artists. In short all performative art forms. Across the country, mostly improvisation is used as a tool to create artistic material and which is then framed and structured into a performance. What we are trying to do is explore another very interesting element of improvisation viz “improvisational performance.” We are proposing to put ourselves to the challenge of being truly honest, bare and vulnerable to our audience as we respond, create and weave the performance right in front of their eyes. Owing to the nature of the work, no two performances will ever be the same. The performance created each time will be a discovery for us and our audience.

Q-4. How will you be using the audience to create these improvised performances?

The hour long performance is going to be broken down into segments. For the very first segment we intend to take suggestions from the audience through the medium of words/text and use that as the basis for our piece. The second segment will be an ensemble with certain scores which basically means all performers enter the space to create an improvised piece keeping a certain framework/guidelines/tracking in mind.

Q-5. What is the scope of improvisation in contemporary dance?


I honestly don’t know how to answer this apart from saying improvisation is already huge. Improvisation is another world. The honesty of each moment, the being present, the not knowing what you’re going to experience or what your body is going to say today when you start moving, that is the world of improvisation.
Improvisation is widely used as a tool to create. Internationally, it’s already a performance medium and the scope is unreal - the possibilities, the mediums, the collaborations. Especially in the world of contemporary dance, you’re already playing with a medium that is more organic. I guess that sense of awareness or level of being tuned in to your body are essential requirements for improvisation.

Q-6. Can you shed light on some upcoming shows you might be doing?

Post our show at The Hive, Chandana and I are also part of a devised piece titled “Unselfed,” directed by Sujay Saple. We recently performed at the ongoing Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2014 and will be performing in Pune at the Pukaar festival over the weekend.

Q-7. Why have you chosen The Hive to perform Present Bodies?

We are drawn to spaces that speak. The Hive is inviting, intimate, informal and spatially has a lot to explore. For a movement medium like ours, it’s just right and exciting. A lot of play is possible with the inherent spaces and levels. Plus the hosts are enthusiastic, full of ideas and welcome experimental stuff.

  • Present Bodies #1 and #2 will be held on February 6 and 7, 2014 at The Hive, Bandra. Entry Rs 150. Deets here and here.