Celebrating femininity through performing arts

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) At a time when public outrage had spilled over to the roads across the country following the gang-rape in Delhi last December, miles away in Israel Shaked Dagan was busy scouting for women to be part of a multicultural group to represent freedom and femininity through the performing arts. It was a fallout of the incident that set off ripples globally.

“This news from India represented an extremely sad and disturbing reality of violence towards women. I have been to India before as a traveller and share a beautiful relationship with the people and the country,” the 26-year-old choreographer and dancer told IANS on her third visit here.

“Sitting there miles away, I was helpless. But being a woman how could I just sit and discuss it with friends and then forget the issue entirely? I decided to bring together the medium of performing arts and women from different countries to express our strength and weakness through this performance,” she added.

Encapsulating her aim and vision in a small video, Dagan uploaded it on YouTube and received an overwhelming response from various countries to be a part of the “Kindling” project.

It has brought together seven women from different nationalities, the US, Israel, Canada, Denmark and Poland, including Dagan, and encapsulated the vast spectrum of their varied backgrounds – music, dance, video and art into a musical performance that will be staged at Gurgaon’s Epicentre Mall and the India Habitat Centre on Thursday and Friday.

The multicultural performance isn’t about preaching to anyone, Dagan insists, adding they have used techniques like silence, monologues and dance to allow the audience to interpret the performance in the manner they want to.

“Awareness is more about being open to accepting different behaviour and not being restricted to define the role of a woman. We are trying to portray different aspects of femininity and show it from a different perspective,” Dagan explained.

“We didn’t want to teach, be provocative or harsh… we just wanted to show what we have,” she added, saying the performance has already been well-received in Kolkata and Imphal.

One can’t miss the Indian influence in the performance, probably because the two months spent in the serene and quaint Challa village in Himachal Pradesh gave them enough time to interact with local women.

“We observed the role of women in the village and it was quite inspiring. Their role is very different. They are extremely strong women and are responsible for holding the entire village together. We tried to connect to them, but it wasn’t always successful,” Biirgitte Lundtoft, a dancer from Denmark who is on her first visit to India, told IANS.

During the performance, these closed observations have been interspersed in different ways to portray strength, weakness, falling, group strength and daily chores.

“They always maintained a distance. They were very warm towards us. They allowed us to be a part of them when they were singing and dancing together. But there was an unspoken rule that said very clearly that we are not interested in you but we will allow you to see us,” Dagan said smilingly.

This apart, a week-long class on the basics of the Kathak Indian classic dance and singing allowed them to broaden their spectrum and incorporate a few elements in their performance.

“It was interesting to know about different ragas and dance forms. We couldn’t become experts in a week. There is some popular music and a few monologues and a few moments of silence. The idea was to make an impact using various modes of communication, ” said Keren Bossin, a composer from Israel.

“Basically we took a pearl from these forms and it is a part of us now,” she added.

(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at [email protected])

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