Each of the four commissioned productions is a confluence of dance, music and literature created by noted dancers and musicians. From each of these creative collaborations between a classical dancer and a classical vocalist emerge new productions with a selected text – compositions by the musician and choreographies by the dancer – both being equally significant aspects of the production.

Curator’s note

The collaboration between a classical dancer and a classical vocalist addresses a serious lacuna in the field of dance—the scarcity of creative dance music. Even though music is an integral part of dance, there is a growing absence of powerful dance music. The reason for this is the increasing chasm between dance and music, where the dancer is seen as the primary figure whereas the musician is viewed as an accompanist. Consequently, many musicians restrain from being a part of dance productions since they feel it might diminish their image as a soloist. This collaborative work seeks to challenge this hierarchy. The productions are true depictions of creative collaborations and have provided an opportunity for interdisciplinary synergy where literature and music within dance are emphasised. As artistes, both the dancers and the musicians had creative space for growth to expand their vision and practice.

New compositions for dance have emerged out of this work that could potentially inspire and infuse the field with more such collaborations in the future. Overall, collaborations such as these would significantly lead to a better quality of music for dance, for posterity. This new space for dialogue between dancers and musicians would draw audiences that are interested in dance as well as music.

Samudra – Mother Ocean

Within each of us is an ocean pregnant with possibilities for creation. Tagore in his poem ‘Samudrer Proti’ addresses the Ocean as the eternal mother of the earth. She is not the stereotyped mother brimming with tenderness and self-sacrifice, put on a pedestal. Rather, she is naïve, impulsive, powerful, animal-like, contradictory – an everyday mother. 

According to the Book of Genesis, on the third day, God commanded the waters to recede  and make dry land appear. That is the most well known of the stories of the creation. It is matched by legends from several other ancient cultures that speak of the emergence of the universe from an infinite expanse of waters. Tagore in this poem imagines a primordial sea in the process of giving birth to the world, tied to it by an infinitely deep love and longing, almost like a mother’s ties to its child, sometimes fierce and raging resulting in tsunamis, sometimes a gentle lullaby rhythm. 

Samudrer Proti gives beautiful imagery for choreography and music, even when we have not used the lines literally. The music is based on Nawaz Mirajkar’s percussion, and Sudha Raghuraman’s Carnatic vocals.

Shivasya Shivaa

It is in Shivaa, his beloved consort, that Shiva, the Adiguru and the ultimate Yogi, finds his foremost disciple and it is in unison with her alone that His beauty and valour become manifest in their finest expressions. Weaving music, narration and movement together, Shivasya Shivaa attempts to explore as also celebrate through an Odissi repertoire the myriad dualities-masculine yet feminine, strong yet gentle, bold yet subtle, forbidding yet appealing, that exist ever so inherently within the human.


This performance has been envisioned as a collaboration between two significant structural streams of North Indian Classical arts: dance as well as vocal music.  The two artistes will attempt to represent the rich tradition of both these elements in collusion with each other. Music has always been an integral part of Kathak dance but it has a legacy of its own traditional compositions as well. Similarly, Indian classical vocal music has a substantial heritage of ragas, compositions and forms of improvisation. This is a unique collaboration that would bring out the best of both these worlds and will illustrate how they complement each other. The performance will begin with a brief vocal piece and will go on to showcase the legacy of traditional Kathak compositions with reference to the Taala system in Hindustani music. There will be a presentation of vocal compositions from the rich tradition of ‘khayal gayaki’ that will also be interpreted through Kathak, highlighting the nuances and emotions of the text in the bandish. There will also be pieces that showcase the interplay and fast, brisk musical exchanges between these two artistes, exploring the concept of improvisation. The whole performance would weave together all these elements through an exploration of devotional and spiritual themes. 


“Do not hold back from telling me any secrets about this universe”, I said.

He spoke into my ear, “Some things cannot be told or understood, only seen and lived within”.

 Bhakthi – love that is one of total abandonment, soaked in truth and immersed in that which is real; a throbbing need,an unconditional surrender, an impassioned plea for ecstasy, for liberation, for union. That which emerges from the very core of one’s being and which has been the seed or cause for deepest expression of the self.

See it through the poetry, feel it through the music and live it through the dance.

  (An evening of exploration of this love through the words of mystic poets, their worlds, their hearts and their inner selves, expounding on their journeys and their singular quests.)



Curated by Sanjeev Bhargava, Scale Medium, Year of Commission 2016

Samudra – Mother Ocean

Choreography by Amrita Lahiri Conceptualised originally by Sharmila Biswas in 2012 Music Composition: Sudha Raghuraman,  Percussion: Nawaz Mirajkar, Flute: Raghuraman , Mridangam: Chandrasekhar, Violin: KP Nandini, Nattuvangam: Kesavan

Shivasya Shivaa

Dancer: Ayona Bhaduri, Flute: Srinibas Satapathy, Mardala: Budhanath Swain, Vocals: Bhuvanesh Komkali, Tabla: Mayank Bedekar


Dancer: Eshani Agarwal, Vocals: Ujjwal Nagar, Tabla / Padhant: Rajeev Shukla, Sarangi: Ahsan Ali, Flute: Rohit Prasanna


Artists: Meenakshi Srinivasan, Kaniyal Hariprasad, Jayashree Ramanathan, V. Vedakrishnaram, K.P.Nandini

All 2019 Grants