Contemporary dancer Astad Deboo, who will be performing in the capital, talks about his recent work, new age dancers, art appreciation and more.
When art translates into a language of its own and connects with the soul of the viewers, magic is created. Legendary contemporary dancer Astad Deboo believes in creating that language of expression through his work. All set to perform his recent collaborative work — Rhythm Divine2, The River Runs Deep — in the capital on March 3, he talks to us about his dance, the audience for experimental art, working with Pink Floyd and more.
His latest work is a collaborative piece with a team of Manipuri drummers, showcasing the simple lifestyle of people in the Northeast and the challenges they face in their daily life. “I have collaborated with the team earlier for Rhythm Divine. It was an interesting work as we mixed my style with their traditional style of drumming with shloka chanting,” shares Astad and adds, “This time we are trying to present an amalgamation of my eclectic music, their drumming along with the shloka chanting while narrating a story. It is not catering to a social issue nor is it commenting on or critiquing the situation but it is a general view of life in that region.”
Though contemporary art has come a long way, according to Astad there are not many takers for experimental art yet in India. “Everyone wants to opt for a tried and tested method. They are sceptical of promoting anything new,” he points out, adding, “Even now, despite my reputation and success, I feel like I have to start from scratch with every performance. I had to invest from my pocket to bring this piece to the Delhi audience. I am thankful that Raza Foundation chipped in for the performance.”
Talking about new age budding dancers, he says, “They are all talented. I ask them what they have trained in and the answer is contemporary dance. You need more than that. You need technique and a vocabulary. You need to have a trained body.”
He feels Indian dancers still have a long way to go to find their flow and language of expression. “I see many of them keep doing the same kind of performances. As a dancer one needs to learn about one’s body and challenge one’s boundaries to take the skill to the next level. Being an artiste takes discipline, training and failure. There is no other way,” he says.
Astad has performed in 70 countries, collaborated with Pink Floyd and worked with the Government of India to celebrate the coronation of the King of Bhutan. Talking about his work with the legendary band Pink Floyd, he recalls, “You weren’t even born then. Winston Churchill’s daughter was organising a charity concert when she asked me if I’d be willing to perform with Pink Flyod in the concert. It was an impromptu performance. They played and I danced.”