Tehreema Mitha likes choreographing dance numbers to compositions layered with instruments from around South Asia as well as the West, with moves that beguile traditionalists in the East and West. Working on a classical solo tillana, she uses a 17-beat cycle instead of the characteristic 8-, 12-, or 16-beat cycle.
"Ma Matti" was the "most fun" - she gave each dancer a five-beat hum of tai, tai, dhit dhit tai to initiate a 12-beat cycle or dialogue to which each dancer had to make up her own adavu, or dance unit, combination. She then combined each dancer's 12-beat cycle into a stage conversation among the ensemble. But what she found most gratifying was hearing the audience hum the five beats as they left the studio, after Ma Matti premiered in 2008.
The Pakistani Mitha has found a kindred spirit in the Indian surbahar player Shubha Sankaran, a Washington-based international musician who also teaches sitar. They have collaborated on several classical and contemporary dance numbers, including a classical "Tillana Bhopali" dance set to a 15-beat cycle, the contemporary "Aatma on the Line," and most recently, "Blue Jeans".
Sankaran describes Mitha as one of the few dancers who is "adventurous", knows what she wants out of a composition, and how she wants it composed, unlike many who are unwilling to experiment. She recalls an Odissi dancer who asked her to compose the same music for each of the 10 avatars of gods that the dance was to portray. "I told her, I can't have the same things repeated over and over again. We've got to make it more exciting."
"The thing about Tehreema is that her dances cover a lot of range and variety," says Sankaran who also enjoys the challenge of composing music to enhance the movements and the theme of a dance.
This spirit of adventure drew Praneetha Akula and Radha Gholkar to audition nearly ten years ago. Akul decided to audition with Mitha after watching her "Chaos".
"I thought I would only be doing bharatnatyam. I didn't realise how different her work is, how unique," said Akul, who is choreographing her first tillana with Mitha's help.
Fresh out of college, Radha Golkhar had just arrived from New York and was looking for a bharatnatyam teacher. Her first love was ballet, she had dabbled in bharatnatyam since her teenage years, and was drawn to Mitha's work "because it was pushing a lot of boundaries."
Mitha has no qualms about pushing the boundaries, or bending the rules occasionally but she insists that her dancers and students know the rules before breaking them. They testify that Mitha does not allow any shortcuts in the technique, demanding the angular geometry in posture and adavus that the Kalakhestra technique requires.
This company "was never meant to be "an ego trip for me," says Tehreema Mitha. "I want to see my training result in a continuity of my style along with the dancers' creative, and hopefully, innovative additions."
- Amena H Saiyid
Thursday, September 15, 2011
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw