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Creating a new dance idiom

Daksha Sheth, renowned danseuse continues her mission of creating a new dance language. PRATIMA ASHER met her recently in the city


DAKSHA SHETH, a danseuse with a difference has created `a new language of dance.' When recently in the city she said, "I have broken all the limits of Indian dance."

Coming from a business family, which she revealed had little interest in artistic achievements, her rebellious tendencies came to the fore at a young age. She began her training under Kathak guru, Kumudini Lakhia and then with Birju Maharaj. But Kathak was not enough, she felt. "I have to grow, to expand. I wanted to do something different," so she decided to specialise in Mayurbhanj Chau, training under Krishna Chandra Naik. Daksha Sheth likes to classify herself as the first Indian woman Chau soloist. "Chau opened my vision as a dancer', she says. "It was a complete contrast to Kathak'. It was when she started doing Chau that she `became interested in martial forms' and came across Kalari Payatu, which she found `amazing'. This brought her to Keralaand her search for a teacher ended with Guru Govindan Kutty Nair and his son Satyan NairDelving into lesser-known folk forms such as Malakhamb, which she uses in her own performances, her creations deal with a wide range of subjects like tantric philosophy, pieces based on the Vedas such as `Yagna', dance interpretations of poetic works such as `Search for my tongue' which explores the dilemma of a person who has to grope for his own language and many others.

About her own style she says, "We learn the tradition and then completely transform it into a dance form." Her own dance is strenuous and vigorous. "We use all the resources we can get such as yoga and gymnastics," and believes that her company has created `a new dance language' which is a totally `new phenomena in Indian dance'. She adds. "Dance is generally on the ground. We dance in the air. Dance was never so physical. You really have to be fit to dance to my choreography. Here is complex rhythmic vitality. It's a completely different world," she exclaims. While Daksha Sheth's productions are often international, she taps most of her resources from India, because India is "a treasure of resources. And because of this, she believes that there really is no need to incorporate western forms in her contemporary Indian dance. But as her dance depends on developing body skills, she doesn't eschew western techniques .

Still looking for new frontiers to explore and to delve deep in the rich resources of India she continues on her mission of creating a new dance language.

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