A Dance of Perspective – Contemporary Dance Troupe ‘Rorschach Touch’ at MILAP 2017
Date: 17/09/2017 | Nida Khan (The MIT Post)
In the AB5 foyer, contemporary dancer Diya Naidu and her group ‘Rorschach Touch’ delivered a substantial performance. It had an unconventional beginning – the lighting was subdued and the music played in discrete segments as the performers quietly rested. Being an interactive piece, the audience was meant to actively participate – to think and delve into the meanings and interpretations. Every twitch of the body had in it a meaning to glean. This kept the audience engaged, as they unlocked the clues of what was unfolding in bits and pieces.
Their name ‘Rorschach Touch’ comes from the test in which psychologists infer the mental state of their subjects based on their perceptions of arbitrary inkblots. Being essentially subjective, the dance act also revolved around the idea of discernment – where the experience was different for each audience member based on their perception of it.
Experimenting with the idea of how people sub-consciously touch and interact with each other, the piece started with a scene of two performers waking up from sleep. What followed was a sequence of them getting out of the phase delay while they explored the concept of touch with their fellow performers. This sequence went on to repeat itself, while pairs of different dancers implemented it. While the sequence itself was based on a choreographic score, the reactions to each move seemed primarily unplanned and authentic.
“Rorschach Touch is a nuanced piece that sheds light on intimacy and questions gender-related ideas ingrained in our minds since the early years of our life. This is an immersive piece that encourages the audience to get carried away – and, at the same time, look at their own self”, said Diya Naidu.
Creating a visual illusion, the scene created by the artistes was considerably soft and silent. A number of unadorned clothes were hanging on the clothe line in the background, signifying the simplicity of their portrayal. A collection of basic objects surrounded the performers, ranging from a clock that was stopped at 1:10, a collection of books, a plant, a teddy bear and so forth. Reading into every clue in the piece, some attendees were baffled about what the objects signified.
On being asked, Diya Naidu said, “The objects signified a boundary between the performers and the audience. While the piece is very immersive, there is still a difference between reality and illusion.”
While the performers had choreographic memory of how they initially reacted, they had to delve into the truth of the moment to express their immediate response. They sometimes glanced casually at the attendees, sometimes even staring. To this, Ms. Naidu said, “The piece being very intimate, the performers bare themselves out to you. Looking at the audience, it gives them their turn to look at you, unabashedly.”
The music that played in the background was soothing and peaceful – creating a soulful and meditative environment. To this, she said that there is rhythm in chaos. Be it birds chirping, or even our thoughts, there is still a rhythm in the randomness – which is exactly what was beautifully executed. While it might not have been conventional, there was still a continuity in the unbridled expression of intuition, making us all breathe a little bit slower, watch a little bit closer.
Created by Sandbox Collective and Goethe Institut Bangalore’s Gender Bender arts project, the group included Ajeesh K Balakrishnan, Akshata Joshi, Asha Poniekiewska, Dayitha Nereyeth, Masoom Parmar and Niranjan Harish. While the piece was essentially subjective, it was beautifully enchanting in its core and something you would not want to miss, whether you chose to derive meaning from it or not.