We’ve all heard of Fusion Performances – the traditional Indian juxtaposed against the Western; the enduring classical placed beside the ever-changing contemporary, Sitaar players going at it with electric guitarists, Bharatnatyam Dancers on the stage right next to Hip-hop variations of their own medium of communication. However, what’s incredibly rare- and just as valuable, is a fusion that goes beyond mediums of communication, or style- a fusion of, let’s say, two completely different art forms, which is exactly what Aayana Dance Company has been doing, in the form of their PoetryxDance Fusion performances all over Bangalore city.

We have always believed in finding non-conventional ways to tell a story. Performing is a way of communicating and in the pursuit of this artistic endeavor, Aayana has been experimenting with performative poetry, a text that is specifically written for performance before an audience. We combine words, music, and dance to create a piece that will resonate with the audience.

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Taking the city by storm ever since their inception in 2009, the company has created a unique vocabulary of dance that celebrates the Indian aesthetic in all its glory. The city itself has appreciated and been awed by their performances, as while mentioning the venues they’ve performed at, Aayana says,

“We have performed most recently at TEDx MSRIT, U25 World Summit, Bangalore Poetry Festival, the U25 Lit Fest as well as several Open Sky Slam events and corporate shows. We have been incredibly lucky in the way the city has responded to our work. Not just our dance performances, but our performative poetry performances too have garnered immense appreciation. It hasn’t been smooth sailing throughout but it’s been a really fun roller coaster ride.”

Here’s a glimpse of their performance:

Their unmatched passion and drive can be seen in the fact that this isn’t something any of them treat as a side-hobby, or an extra-curricular addition to their lives – Aayana is a full time job for many of the performers, and is treated as such.

It’s a commitment that we’ve made to each other as artists and more importantly as human beings. Most of us are already working with the Company full time and those who are in college will be joining the Company once they graduate. We treat everybody who is a part of the company like family.

Considering the fact that poetry and dance are such diverse art forms, each with their own rules, implications, tools, styles as well as variations – the very idea to put them together left us wondering at the inception of such an idea. How did Aayana think to put these together?

The idea of merging dance and poetry came about very organically. While working on two very different projects, we felt that there might be scope for them to come together. The dance adds a visual element to spoken word poetry and the poetry adds depth and dimension to the dance performances. The best part about working on something new is that there are no rules and we have been free to let our imaginations run wild.

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From 2009 to 2017, the journey of Aayana in the performance world of Bangalore has been eventful, as well as a huge learning experience for all of the team members. Their first performance of this kind was at Haut Koko, and while they don’t remember this as their most important performance, they were aware of what they’d discovered by the reaction of the audience as well as the cathartic experience the performance was. About their journey, and their group itself, they say,

A lot has happened. We’re definitely a lot more in sync. We complete each other’s sentences and quote each other at random intervals. We’ve experienced each other’s heartbreaks and happiness and understood who we are and what we stand for as individuals. This process has made us so much stronger. Our Art is simple and powerful. We push each other to be the best possible version of ourselves, and optimize our strengths and work on our weaknesses. This is what art is meant to do, and that is what we do.

The members of the group include ­- Manognya Balaraju, Pallavi Manjunath, Vhishal Swamy, Kajal Bangera, Revantha Rajkumar, Anthony Vignesh, Deevhya Ravi, Kajol Jadhav, Manish Kumar, Anagha GS, Aniruddha Iyer, Raksha Ganesh and Charu Mittal.

Concluding, the members of the team say, “In Dance lies our love, our life, our light.”

By Utkarsh Pathak

For the ATKT.in Editorial Team.