The Fuschia Tree
Editor's Note.
It's like hanging off a roof, too weak to get back up, strong enough to hold on. Or perhaps it is learning to see yourself from the perspective of the roof. Two people, now one, revisit the world via "the mediation of the difference in their gazes" (Alan Badiou, In Praise of Love).

Love is anxious about the future, torn in the present, exhilarated by the past. Love is swept away by ideas and angst, and bound, entranced, steadied by weight. Anchored. Light and floating
Because it overcomes time: yes, indeed, only in love, is eternity finite.
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By Manjari Kaul, Issue 17, Love, February 2013
If love between two people were to be performed, it would be expressed through the intense awareness that two bodies have of each other, in inertia and kinesis: rolling, sliding, pushing, spiralling, falling, balancing, halting, clinging, darting at each other, cradling, lifting in a manner that is abrupt at times, fluid on other occasions, sometimes feverish or even flimsy and slight. Contact Improvisation is a dance form that provides a point of exploration through movement and instinct—an expression of love in its endless possibilities. The two or more performers find themselves entangled in each other and the space that surrounds them and binds them together. They resonate, disrupt, exaggerate and harmonize with each other’s experience of being tethered to the other, as if performing the life of a love story.

Here is a conversation with Hema Vellaluru Sundari, a contemporary dancer who performed a piece based on Contact Improvisation called, Starting Point # 3 (choreographed by Felix Burkle) at the British Council, New Delhi, during the GATI Festival of Contemporary Dance, 2012.

TFT: What are the elements that define (a) love and (b) dance for you? How and where do they come together?

Hema Sundari Vellaluru: I believe in eternal love. Love lies beyond the mundaneness of this materialistic world; it is an experience of selflessness. Dance for me is a journey to calmness and contentment, away from the materialism of the fast paced world. This, for me connects love and dance and my love for dance.

TFT: How is the meeting of two dancers who click instantly similar to/ different from love at first sight?

HSV: In love, you connect with each other through mutual feelings for each other. The meeting of two dancers is different from love at first sight. In dance, the initial connection is established through your physical compatibility, especially if it is a contact based work. The emotional connection we both make respectively is towards the work. We are joined by a common subject of love.

TFT: If dance were a love story what would be its beginning, middle and end?

HSV: If dance were a love story then the beginning would be the physical training,
the middle would be the emotional connection and realisation of what it really means and
brings to your life and the ending would be infinity, a merger of various experiences that
leads you to something eternal.

TFT: What is the role of Sringar Ras in your choreography? What was the experience of it during your performance of Starting Point # 3?

HSV: In Starting Point # 3, the dancers deal with being themselves in the space coming together and trying to dance together. So, the experiment of dancing together creates different bhava with each performance for us as dancers and an experience of a different rasa for every audience.

Starting Point has been choreographed in a manner such that the movements in the first half are rehearsed and mostly improvised in the second half. The main focus in the performance is to execute movements and to be one’s own self. Emotions are summarised through improvisations of reactions and responses to each other.

TFT: What is the experience of shared movement in contact improvisation? Could the trajectory of shared movement (with another individual) to an experience of a shared 'here and now' (with your audience) be seen as a journey from love for an individual to that of communitarian love/ compassion?

HSV: Shared movement is a communication between two dancers in contact improvisation. Here, even though the dancers have a direct involvement in the task, they do not have a predictable outcome; not fully at least. Sharing this with the audience is a thrilling experience through which one finds new meanings to what one has been doing. Eventually it is the shared but different experience of this dance that plays a connecting role between the dancers, the dancers and the audience and the audience members themselves.

As told to Manjari Kaul, a writer living in Delhi.

Hema Sundari Vellaluru, born in 1984, is a Bangalore based contemporary dancer and

Also in this issue

  • From King To Prince, With Love
    The piece below is an imagined reverie between two lovers who live on separate continents. I use the form of love-letters as a window into the candid space that only the people experiencing...
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  • The Heart of the Matter.
    Love, that many-splendoured thing, is after all an elusive emotion. Yet a simple scribble of a heart conveys the feeling. It is not difficult to trace how hearts have come to capture our imagination...
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  • The Shape of Time & Words.
    Someone once said ‘but your stories all end in sadness.’ The events in my stories are sometimes sad, but my attempt in every story is to end with a small ‘lift.’ That is, I want the story to...
    Read More

Illusion: Seeing Beyond Seeing
Meaning: In Search of Significance.
Melody: A Different Tune
Rhythm: Ordering Time

Dhrupadi Ghosh is an old friend of mine. We have often had long sessions of adda late at night, discussing her dream projects since her college days at Santiniketan, where she majored in Sculpture.