Ajoka’s ‘Panj Pani’ Festival Comes to a Rapturous End

By Sonya Rehman

In a packed Alhamra hall, Ajoka wrapped up its ‘Panj Pani’ Indo-Pak Theatre Festival on a Monday night (the 23rd of April) with as much festivity and drama as its commencement, on the 18th of the same month.

The last mime/dance performance from this six day festival was put up by the ‘Bhoomika Creative Dance Centre’ which hailed from across the border – New Delhi. Apart from fifty dance/ballet productions and performances under its belt, ‘Bhoomika’ has performed at prestigious events with the likes of the IX Asian Games (in 1982), the Modern Dance Festival in Germany (performed in 1990) and the 9th Biennale De La Danse Lyon Festival – which took place in France, among others.

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Bhoomika’s first performance, ‘Flying cranes’, depicted the dancers gracing the stage in slow and supple bird-like movements. Even though the performance dipped towards monotony towards the middle, the act was gentle and almost ‘fluid’, the lighting purposely dimmed to a soft blue haze, bringing out the surrealistic element of ‘Flying cranes’.
“There is an ocean of peace infront of me, row my boat…please guide my destiny to me as I have fulfilled my life”, Narendra Sharma, (the Founder and Choreographer of Bhoomika) stated before the initiation of ‘Antim Adhyay’ – a series of the second performance, which celebrated death.

As morbid as the subject was, the act opened up with a chilling routine of a trance, cult-like performance of the dancers covered in white sheets. The accompanying music of the performance as well was extraordinarily chilling – truly ingenious choreography. “None of us is going to sleep tonight”, I heard an individual saying amusedly, which was followed up by a chuckle or two.

Dressed in short tops that ended at the mid-riff and choori-daar pajamas, the performances which followed were raw and charged, a far cry from ‘Flying cranes’. One in particular was a quick-paced, almost ‘classical tap dance’ version where the dancers clapped hands, stomped their feet, shouted and danced in unison. The act basically brought to light the utter lunacy of traffic in the third-world which culminates into vile accidents, and then eventually, demise.

While the sobriety of the subject, ‘Antim Adhyay’, was grave and profound in itself, the dancers brought out the theme’s beauty, and its ‘acceptance’, quite effortlessly. And where the symmetry of the dancers were at times irregular (during a joint performance), Bhoomika did a wonderful job in bringing to light a poignant truth with natural splendor, and grace.

With the culmination of the ‘Panj Pani Indo-Pak Festival’, Ajoka plans to continue collaborating with our neighbours (across the border) for future theatrical events and festivities – with the aim of providing local audiences with packages of art, entertainment and pertinent, social messages. Well done Ajoka!

Instep Today, The News

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