Grey Area

(Time Out Mumbai, March 2014. Photo by Noni Chawla, saved off the Time Out website)

Aditi Mangaldas’ latest production draws on the past and present chronicles of brutality and human behaviour.

Veteran dancer and choreographer Aditi Mangaldas has studied kathak, which excites her more than ever, with star teachers like Kumudini Lakhia and Birju Maharaj. Attempting to journey into the mind’s “deepest, most complex emotions”, Delhi-based Mangaldas and her company will performWithin in the city this fortnight. What sets her latest production apart from her earlier repertoire is its exploration of human nature. In an interview withTime Out, Mangaldas said, “I have worked on intangible concepts like time and space. Within is close to my heart because it questions what happens within us, to make us what we are.” Shortly after she began her research, the tragic December 2012 Delhi rape took place, shaking the dancer to her core and compelling her to pay attention to the brutality that lay within human beings. Surrounded by images of hate and violence, she was struck by a Salman Rushdie quote about the world choosing to define itself through negativity. Mangaldas started to revisit mythology, coming across tales of Brahma desiring his own daughter, thus birthing the human race with an act of great violence. Then there was also Shiva’s dance of destruction, fuelled by sorrow after the death of his wife. Mangaldas was particular about letting these incidents and stories inform her piece without making literal references to them. “That is why we kept the name simple – calling the production Within,” she said, going on to ask, “What are these inner conflicts and emotions, these qualities that are half-embraced, living in constant light and shadow?”  

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