Volume 3 Issue 2 - January 15, 2005

Chennai group dances to music of silence

DNIS News Network - Astad Deboo and his troupe will perform at the 20th Annual Deaf Olympics.

The pioneer of contemporary dance in India, Astad Deboo, along with a troupe of 12 young women -- hearing impaired dancers from the Clarke School of Deaf in Chennai and comprising the Astad Deboo Dance Company -- is on the verge of creating history. Deboo and his troupe will be heading to Melbourne, Australia, to perform at the 20th Annual Deaf Olympics.

Deboo is one of the two choreographers selected by the Deaf Olympics Committee to create a special five-minute programme for the event. During the following nine days at the Deaf Olympics, they will also perform eight shows of Contraposition, a dance choreographed by Deboo.

“Contraposition is a marriage between the various traditions of Indian classical dance forms and nine emotions that are depicted through them. All the performers are in the age group of 15 to 22 years. It is no therapy for these people. They are as normal for me as other dancers are,” says Deboo, the pioneer of modern dance in India and recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

Both the dancers as well as Deboo have been slogging to make the performances in India and abroad as successful as possible. “Since the last three months, we have been rehearsing for five hours daily. We aren't aiming for perfection, just excellence,” says Deboo.

Deboo has been nurturing cultural talent among deaf people in India since the last 16 years. “Contraposition has been possible with the help of grants from the Royal Netherlands Embassy,” he says. Since his dancers cannot dance by ear, he teaches them to respond to musical vibrations and a special eight-count gesture system, which he demonstrates. “They normally dance on a wooden floor,” he reveals.

“The girls are trained in Bharatnatyam. They count from the beginning to the end, depending on the music. And when they count at the same time, they automatically synchronise, a characteristic which should be noted,” says the choreographer.

“They synchronise in a way ordinary people cannot, which is quite remarkable,” he adds.

The team members from the Clarke School of the Deaf include Mahalakshmi.H, Mahalakshmi.T, Jamuna Rani.S, Divya H.G, Gayathree S, Meenakumari N, Silsha MV and Karthika R.

Apart from choreographing Contraposition, Deboo has also been fulfilling his responsibilities as a producer, the biggest of which is raising money for sponsorship for their stint at the Deaf Olympics.

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