In September 2021, as India was cautiously emerging from a deadly second wave of the COVID19 pandemic, the American Center New Delhi and the Kutumb Foundation invited me to create something for ‘Josh-e-Umang, a digital-only spiritual music and dance festival. In a context of growing religious fundamentalism and deeply divisive policies from the Government of India, this festival set out to celebrate diversity and inclusivity, oneness and pluralism, and above all respect our differences and highlight our similarities.
Inspired by the Bangla saying ‘joto mot toto poth’ (there are as many paths as there are perspectives), Arrival draws on different genres of spiritual music – Gurbani, Sufiana, Baul – to sketch varying relationships we can have with a power larger than ourselves. We can be obedient, devout, seductive, playful, irreverent, demanding – all this and more – reaching into ourselves in order to arrive somewhere else.
While it was created for and premiered at a digital-only festival, the piece is intended to be performed live, and not presented as a dance-film.
The premiere performance was followed by a conversation with Manjima Chatterjee of the Kutumb Foundation. The performance and conversation can be viewed here.
Subsequently, an extract of the piece was performed at Ghare Baire, Currency Building gallery, Calcutta as part of a performative walkthrough.
” Iyengar in Arrival covers the whole frequency of the relationships between humans and the Divine. He goes from complete surrender to the Divine to extreme demands from the Divine, including the playful, mutual relationship between the two in the middle. Again, he uses three different colours, blue, red, black, slowly going up the colour scale, representing the intensity of the interconnection between one and their own ‘God’. “
review by Shruti Chakraborty
Concept, Choreography, Performance:
Poem read by:
Music Orchestration, Arrangement, Recording:
Lighting Design & Execution:
Videography & Editing:
Sudokshina Manna Chatterjee
Rajeswary Ganguly Banerjee
Sampurna Chattarji, Vikram Iyengar
Goethe Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata
[all images on this page are by Kunal Chakraborty]