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Why can I remember your smile,
feel your warmth, smell your skin,
but not see your face?
I have not striven to forget.
My heart remembers the pleasure of you.
I can see you taking shape in my mind
- yet I cannot see your face…
Come back to me.
Let me trace the contours of your jaw,
run my fingers over your brow,
etch the bridge of your nose in my soul's memory,
so that when you go away again,
this time, I don't forget.
FACES is a presentation of some of the most familiar and loved
personas from our cultural tapestry. Portraying varied sentiments, these
FACES together traverse a spectrum of emotions, to finally surrender to
The Face of Compassion
The Face of Rage
Traditional Sanskrit Chant
The Forgotten Face
Raga: Brindavana Saranga
The Face of Blissful Surrender
FACES brings together the skills of Anita's long-time
collaborators Sandhya Raman (costume design), Mithran Devanesen
(direction and lighting design) and the music of Anil Srinivasan.
Joining the team as dramaturg is Aparna, who has worked with
contemporary dance theater in Germany.
Notes on FACES
Most creations find their inspiration in a fleeting word, image or
moment. That is how FACES, too, was born. There are the familiar
archetypes, but there is also that blurring of lines between them.
"These faces were already there – have always been," says Anita. "But
they have been recognized as personalities rather than emotions. So when
you look at them just as faces, they become easier to relate to, the
emotion becomes personal."
The use of theatrical stage movement and tools links the faces
together, the music stays true to each, and the evening thus becomes an
exploration of the range of emotion one is capable of. "Looking past the
aura of these cultural icons and finding the recognizable feelings that
drive us all, that connect them to us and each other, that's what FACES
Musically, FACES opens itself up to variety in choice of styles,
showcasing different sources. A striking feature of Anil Srinivasan's
musical arrangement for FACES is the usage of traditional Carnatic music
compositions sung as they are, not specifically tailor-made to suit set
choreography or stage directions. This frees the musical execution from
shackles of "made to order" music. So when Sikkil Gurucharan sings, for
example, the song is not structured to choreographic requirements, but
rather the choreography uses its natural flow. This, to Anil, is the
idea of poetry in motion – the music and the dance are simultaneous
"The treatment of melody with different layers of sound =
different moods/expressions conveyed through body movement," says Anil.
And he plays with that in such a way that niraval singing is accompanied by a deliberately constructed harmonic base each, for each different treatment of the phrasing.
In Anil's arrangements the silence is as important as the sound.
Punctuating the music without puncturing it, silence creates space for
thinking, absorbing the moment, before the next begins. And this is what
the music should allow for. "This is what FACES is all about," he says.
"The silence allows the mind to ponder, and form a coherent thought
before being rushed into the next face/movement. The dance lies
ultimately in the rasanabhuti of silence."
Sandhya has designed Anita's dance costumes for so many years now;
she knows exactly what suits her body, her personality and her movement.
As with every new production, the creative work began with a meeting to
discuss the theme of the new work and understand what was required of
the costumes. Then Sandhya began to interpret concept into fabric. "The
first visual image I had was that of soft wraps," she says, "This is
contemporary imaginative dialogue between the dancer and the audience,
and not classical work, so I wanted to bring out the classical grace of
the feminine image without the heavy embellishment of traditional
costumes." So the look of the costumes for this production is created
with wraps and drapes, rendered elegant by their generous length and
then completed with carefully chosen accessories. The colors range from
fresh, light green and chrome yellow to copper gold and crystal-studded
organza Benaras cutwork. A tussar-toned shell stays constant underneath
while the different drapes follow the progressions in the dance. "You
will find the grace of the Bengal drape, the flow of northern Kathak and
the assertion of masculine energy, each contributing to the continuity
of the evening and building up to its conclusion."
For all the commonalities between traditions of dance and theater
around the world, there also are the differences. So while collaborative
work is exciting, there is an underlying need to respect, if not
totally understand, the media that one is working with. "My perception
of Bharatanatyam is untrained and inexperienced," says Aparna. "So in
this production, that frees my eye from convention and allows me to play
with the theatricality of the theme, dramatize movement and create
different spaces." Every myth is open to interpretation, every story can
be told in infinite ways. "Eventually, with the usage of theatrical
stage movement and text to corresponding sound and light, I want find a
language that translates into a dramatic yet intimate of telling these