Re-imagining of 'Terms and Conditions Apply'
What does it mean to re-make a piece with a new cast in a new context? Aseng Borang talks to Spaces for Practice curator Vikram Iyengar about recreating Terms and Conditions Apply in a Calcutta context, and how the energies and textures of the city creep into the creative process. The conversation also addresses how the choreographer’s own process of creation changes with a new cast from diverse backgrounds in an unfamiliar context of making, and what fresh challenges and discoveries are yet to be met and made towards the finished piece.
Aseng and our workshop participants have penned down their thoughts, musings and experiences during the workshop in their journals. Read on to get a peek at their practice.
How does one re-imagine a work? How does one re-imagine a context?
And why? Firstly, answering the why, because a sense of fatigue creeps in during rehearsals. A fatigue, not in the body, but it hangs in the air. One cannot help but taste something foul, like a leftover meal. Dancers look mechanic and treat the material with disregard as if it’s junk. It’s heartbreaking but you understand why they are doing so. It’s exhaustion. And sometimes boredom. Same things you feel when you watch it as a choreographer.
To play and to perform
A performance is somehow treated as a barometer via which the skills, technique, memory etc. of an individual are measured. Within movement and dance, a performance is considered as an culmination point of a process, the tip of a peak. And to perform translates to ‘display and exhibit’. Reader, please understand, to exhibit and to display can be a performative or a choreographic choice/intention. In my view, to perform should be allowed to translate into multiple meanings, adjectives, nouns and verbs as it is humanly possible and not just to display and exhibit. To play meaning to dibble dabble, experiment, giggle, mistakes, faltering, exchanging fragilities. Can one attempt to blur play and performance? Can one play and perform or perform and play?
Site and the bodies that inhabit the site.
It is not hard to imagine stories in a city like Kolkata. A city that feels like a memory and often looks and behaves like one too. The process of re-imagining the work involved a lot of listening to the city. Sometimes it would be a friend, sometimes an antagonist, sometimes a lover and sometimes a cat, indifferent but always close by.
Autos in Kolkata behave like migratory birds. They religiously follow one single route. Nothing beyond the demarcated trajectory. Nothing lesser than the demarcated trajectory. And the journey is shared with friends and strangers. Sometimes hunters can still lure birds with crops but nothing can lure the auto-drivers of this city.
No amount of extra money, jewelry or even a govt. job, no bribe was good enough for them. Sometimes I wonder if they would make better politicians with such single-headed principles and their linear trajectories. This was one of the first terms and conditions I came across as I stepped into the city. The process of creation was informed and swayed by the mood and hues of the city and its inhabitants. An Adda, a siesta, a tram ride, a visit to the Hooghly, queering up our own lenses, visiting shady bars and Pina Bausch’s donated linoleum floor.
We live in a world filled with instructions, advice, requests and commands. Red light meaning danger. A thumb with the fingertip pointed towards the sky meaning okay. Deadlines. Voting lines. Bank lines. How to write a CV? Who is a good employee? Who is a good parent? How to be a good student? What is sportsmanship? Manifestos and asbestos. Resistances and Allegiances.
The skeleton of our society is made up of instructions. How to walk? How to stand?
It is always a learning process. For the first few months as a baby, you have no clue about the fact that your body exists. Your little head, your little legs are just blubs of air. The child continues to see itself as a part of its mother’s body.
The first thing we learn is that we exist.
Instruction one: “You exist. You have a body.”
Instruction two: “You learn how to use your body and mind.”
Instruction three: “You learn to sit and crawl.”
The year is 1947 but for today, it is 20th January 2023. Please do not ask for the meaning of this sentence, for you will have to live it. You will have to memorize and archive it in your body and blood. A span of 76 years.
[‘Ajib Daastan Hain Yeh’ plays in the background] The head and the tail mark the beginning and end of the spine. Four heads and four tails traverse through spaces, side by side and one after the other. Together they inhale and exhale. [Close your eyes, breathe in and breathe out In the count of four […]