(Time Out Mumbai, January 2014. Photo courtesy Sajal Ghosh.)
Time Out gets to the bottom of performance company Ranan’s latest production that’s inspired by Beethoven and a Vikram Seth novel.
Dancers can spend aeons plumbing the depths of their chosen styles, without succumbing to ennui. For kathak dancer-choreographer and theatre director Vikram Iyengar, this is a familiar feeling. He is the artistic director of Ranan, a young, Kolkata-based performance company that strongly believes in bringing the arts, artists and audiences closer to each other. Established in 2004, Ranan has worked with dancers and actors to create a varied repertoire that includes traditional kathak presentations and dance theatre works. This fortnight, Iyengar and his company stage Those Who Could Not Hear the Music, a performance inspired by the life, music and writings of the German composer Ludwig van Beethoven, and Vikram Seth’s novel – An Equal Music.
Iyengar and his collaborator, Debashree Bhattacharya, conceived the idea of Ranan in December 2001, as they stalked an errant tailor’s shop, waiting for long-delayed costumes. They found themselves asking the same questions about choreographic impulses, interdisciplinary work and a new performance aesthetic. “We were already working on a series of duets,” said Iyengar, in a telephone interview with Time Out. “Simultaneously, we decided to set up a company. It was a logical continuation of having learnt together for many years (with Rani Karnaa). Debashree and I had choreographed with Aunty (Karnaa) and while she was using the same choreographic impulses, we wanted to take them in another direction. Yet, ‘dance’, for us, still lay within the kathak framework.”