A story of the sari
‘Sari: The Unstitched’ is a production by Daksha Sheth Dance Company that had its performance at Serendipity Arts Festival 2017. Café speaks to Dakhsa Sheth, the artistic director, and Devissaro, her husband and artistic co-director, to learn more about how they’ve showcased a humble sari with the fluidity of dance
A weaver prides himself by looking at a simple sari as it has taken up his skill, time and imagination. Bringing forth the various emotions that run deep, as a cotton pod transforms into one of India’s most prized possessions, the journey of the sari was showcased by the Daksha Sheth Dance Company in their production called the ‘Sari: The Unstitched’. The one-hour-long performance was researched and created over a period of five years. Daksha Sheth needs no introduction when it comes to the world of dance. She has created a niche for herself in Indian and contemporary dance for the past 45 years and she has excelled in whatever projects she has undertaken. Based in Kerala, her production company interacts with dance connoisseurs from around the world. She was inspired by the literary works on the Sari by sari historian and author Rta Kapur Chishti, who asked her to adapt her latest book ‘Saris: Tradition and Beyond’ into a dance production. “For every show, we take a minimum of five years to do research. We have to create work by going through our research. It is also an education for us when we take up a subject of interest that we’ve not dwelt upon earlier. Rta has put in years of research into writing her 16 books on the sari and it was important to understand the weavers. We have showcased a man putting a sari on a woman and how the sari is worn across different states of India,” explains Daksha Sheth. The music for the production is composed by Devissaro, Daksha’s husband, who has worked for over two and a half years to get the music to touch the hearts of the audience while telling the weaver’s story. “The dances had to be in sync with the music. We get dancers from all across the country, who want to be a part of the production. In Kerala, our base, we have local male dancers but we get female contemporary dancers from places like Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Rajasthan, etc. Every production is an experience that is both visually and aurally pleasing,” says Devissaro. He further adds, “Our main goal is to reach everyone. If we want to be a source of communication, we have to speak in a language that is understandable for everyone.” ‘Sari: The Unstitched’ recently returned from their tour of the United Kingdom, where they performed at the India at UK 2017 festival. “We had five shows in the UK and they were all very good. We got a standing ovation after each performance, which speaks a lot about our work. In Goa, too, we had a standing ovation in a stadium. The story of the sari is relatable even in the UK as the subject is without complexity and with the dances, the audience enjoys it. The show is open to a wider audience, right from a child to a teenager to an elderly person. If you are a musician, you will understand the techniques of the music and if you are a dancer, you will feel inspired. ‘Sari: The Unstitched’ is simple and the audience wants to be with you on the journey,” says Daksha. The Daksha Sheth Dance Company has presented their Indian contemporary dance work in more than 30 different countries and at more than 25 international festivals. “We will be performing ‘Sari: The Unstitched’ on May 4, 2018 in Paris. Through the Serendipity Arts Festival, many people who watched the production have called to inquire about the performance. There will be more shows in India before we leave for Paris,” says Daksha.
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