Love – a four lettered word that has so many meanings and interpretations that it can be mind boggling. And when expressed through a dance musical, it can take things to a new dimension all together. Urvashi, a dance drama is a unique interpretation and celebration of Love and Womanhood through the eyes of Vaibhav Arekar and Sushant Jadhav, Directors/Choreographers is an introspective journey to uncover the meaning of true love. Named after the celestial nymph who is caught in a dilemma of choosing her love or staying true to the vows, this is a story of woman empowerment, much like how today’s woman has to choose between doing her duties and her own happiness and ambitions.
Catching up with the artistes, I ask them what attracted them to dance in the first place and Vaibhav Arekar admits it was a childhood dream. “To be honest from the time of my early childhood days, I always wanted to be on stage and dance. I do not come a family with any kind of artistic lineage so how this interest awakened in me is difficult to answer. One is born with it is what I feel and for reasons unknown I always had strong leaning towards classical dance.” Sushant Jadhav avers, “I always wanted to dance but did not know exactly which style. I used to participate in annual functions in school but for professional training there was no one to guide me. I use to stand at the bus stop at Khar near Gopi Krishnaji’s bungalow and listen to the sound of the ghungru (the sound of the bell which I actually understood later in life) and get inspired and excited. But there was no in depth understanding and guidance at home as both my parents were in government service and wanted me to settle down with a regular job. My dad passed away last year and it was my passion and my mother’s support, confidence and faith that helped me fulfill my dream.”
In 2009, Vaibhav had started to freelance and received an offer to tour Poland with his dance company. He then reached out to Sushant whom he knew from the time when the latter was pursuing his Diploma in Kathak with SNDT University. “I was heading the Bharatanatyam department who gave me all the moral support and assurance to help put together a team. From then onwards, I gathered dancers and started training them into the nuances of the art and Sushant began to take charge as a technical manager. Soon I realized that he has a great sense of seeing my work and guiding me in its design. As a dancer cum choreographer it is not possible for me to see my own work from an outside perspective so he started to be the dramaturge for all the works. It was almost as if we had co-founded the dance company,” reminisces Vaibhav. It helped that Sushant was a dancer in various groups and also worked with many dance productions like Hema Malini’s Natyavihar Kalakendra and Sachin Shankar ballet unit among others. “I always dreamt to create my own work. When Vaibhav and me started working together, he being established artist always inspired and gave me an opportunity to make my own identity and create my own space with him. He is the one who sensed my creative sensibilities towards lights and costume designing and I started associating and working as a dramaturge in classical dance productions with him in his productions.”
The Mantra Foundation who had zeroed on the story of Urvashi invited the duo to execute the production. What followed was a series of long discussions with the writers and the dialogues were penned by Hemant Hazare who also worked and directed the actors in the production. “It is post this that Sushant worked extensively with the music composer. It was done simultaneously with the choreographic ideas sorted out. Of course our dancers of Sankhya Dance Company have been relentlessly working; in addition to dance they have been assisting in all departments, to make this dream project come to life,” says Vaibhav. The duo work on varied subjects for their dance dramas and are inspired both by experiences from daily life as well as mythological stories, epics, history and literature. Urvashi the production is a labour of hard work and passion and has a Broadway like approach in terms of visuals, music and production. “The story lends itself to various emotions giving us a chance to blend theatre, dance, martial arts, folk elements and music beautifully. We wanted to create a complete experience of this celestial story with drama, magic and entertainment. Urvashi represents a woman’s struggle to make her own decisions and celebrates this victory. It is a story that will connect with all age groups,” say the duo.
When I ask them how they manage to ensure dance is contemporary and remains an interesting area for today’s young urban crowd they say that it is important to connect with their audience. Sushant explains, “I don’t think we make a dedicated effort to connect the young urban crowd, we have faith in our craft and believe that our story telling ability will attract and connect with diverse audience including youngsters.” Their advice to youngsters who want to pursue dance professionally is simple. “It is a profession where you live a new life every day and while it is exciting you should realise it is sheer hard work. One may not see recognition immediately yet there has to be perseverance and determination to continue,” says Vaibhav. Sushant adds, “you must have a dream of what you want to do and what you want to achieve in your life. Hard work, dedication, passion and discipline are a must to reach your desired goals. And success will not come overnight.” Now that is impossible to argue with and is probably exactly why they have achieved so much success in dance.
This story appeared in Deccan Herald’s Sunday Herald dated 11th Feb 2018 here