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Through the looking-glass

Posted September 6th, 2019, 10:11 AM IST

Through the looking-glass

Stories can be moving and movements can unfold stories. Then why not combine both to explore the matters of the mind in an experimental and powerful act? It was this line of thought, anyway, that brought dancer / choreographer Janavi Ananth together with storyteller Meera Venkatesan, for a performance that unfolds in a ‘movement narrative’. Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, is an amalgamation of dance and narrative storytelling, that explores a part of life we all experience, but you have to be there find out more!

Janavi describes herself as a ‘mover’ – one who moves on her own, moves others, too. “By profession, I am a movement therapy practitioner with a certification in Movement Therapy and a masters in Psychology,” she explains. She has also trained in Bharatnatyam and contemporary dance.





Meera Venkatesan says stories hold a mirror to life. “Stories can be quirky, mundane, unpredictable, gut-wrenching or even unreal, just like life itself. An analogy I often think of is that stories are the ready-to-eat version of your favourite food. You can instantly live or relive an experience through a story,” explains Meera, who is a storyteller, trainer and learning design specialist.

Mirror, Mirror is an exploration of the mind and of what constitutes self-image, unfolded through the simple, everyday routine of makeup. Meera and Janavi have collaborated before and were brainstorming new ideas when this one emerged as the front-runner. “We wanted to use our individual strengths – dancing and storytelling – but to create something unique, something that’s different from a dance-drama,” says Meera. “Movements are the rhythm and the continuity between stops. This rhythm and continuity form the backbone of stories, too. After having done this play, we are convinced that they go together naturally.”

Dance, says Janavi, is a “somatic version of story narration,” while storytelling “dances with your thoughts, creativity, values and attitudes.” The two have found common ground in Mirror, mirror, on the wall. “More than the product, for me, it was the process of ‘making’ that left an impact.” Getting up and getting dressed mean different things to different people and is a notion worth exploring, dependent as it is on a universal human trait – vanity. Every morning, we look into the mirror and build stories around ourselves, whether one is a man or a woman, or if the agent of that story is a shade of lipstick or a beard.

Janavi’s character in the performance is a container of stories, with many layers. She will appeal to different audiences and question commonly-held beliefs – from resonating with the girl-next-door to questioning ideas like makeup being solely about women. “Kavya is all of them,” says Janavi. The character wants to know how the look is determined by the being and how the being is defined by one’s looks. “I relate to her as she doesn’t judge, jump to conclusions or even try to find solutions,” says Janavi. “She is questioning and exploring life, feeling a desire for it.”

Audiences in Bengaluru are ready to lap it up. “They will explore anything from classic to contemporary, performances purely for entertainment and those that are thought-provoking,” says Janavi. “There is definitely an inclination towards discovering new perspectives to life. And art is the safest way to facilitate this. We only keep our fingers crossed, so people make the choice to engage with what they resonate with the most, and not get drowned in the abundance,” says Meera.

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