BWW Interview: 'Some coined me gay and some as bisexual' - Expressionist Dancer PATRUNI CHIDANANDA SASTRY
Patruni Chidananda Sastry is an expressionist dancer and activist. One of the few male classical dancers he was born and brought up in Kolkata and learnt Indian classical forms Kuchipudi Bharatanatyam and Odissi since childhood.
The dancer admits that being a male dancer his sexuality has always being questioned. And thus he continues to tackle important subjects through the medium of his art.
Patruni will be performing at an upcoming show on 28th July named "B3 An evening of continental dances" where he will be presenting continental dances which were always been part of social stigmas and I would be presenting "classical Butoh" an expressionist dance on the awareness of schizophrenia.
BWW talks to Sastry on his passion for dance and how dance can create awareness for LGBTQ issues.
1. Tell us about your background and your initiation into classical dance forms.
I am Born and bought up in west Bengal and my family was really traditional and spiritually bound. My interest with dance started after watching a Telugu movie where a heroine (Ramya Krishna) was dancing as she was angry. Then a kid, I thought to express anger one has to dance. Seeing my immediate passion my father put me into a dance school for learning. I started with Kuchipudi for 3 years and then went to Kolkata to learn Bharatanatyam from Kalamandalam Venkit sir. Then started the journey which I never looked back. I am learning since past 18 years and in the mid-way developed a new style called "Indian classical Expressionism" through which we can communicate complex subjects of sexuality and sexual educations.
2. Why do you think it is important for the world to understand your craft and what are you currently doing?
Dance is a very tool which can be utilized as a part of education system. Its breaks the barriers of language and culture and brings in people together. Expressionism was created at the time of World War 2 to express the revolution of resonance with art. The expressionism then was subjected for Modern dance and ballet. However, in today's Indian outsets where we see the lack of awareness and influx. I thought of bringing the same aspects to Indian context. With expressionism the way to modulate awards and activism makes it unique style in itself. I thought of using the same with technicalities of Indian dances like kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam which I learnt for a modern approach. With expressionist dance I started to communicate issues of gender dynamics, LGBT QIA topics such as "different verticals of LGBT", the journey of being closeted and so on. Also I tried to pull in the subjects of Greek mythologies to Indian context with expressionism.
3. How can art create a better world?
By expressionism we can communicate any subjects starting from Data science to gender studies, the usages of Props and lyrical aspects helps it to articulate all the complex ideas with subtlety.
Dance can be used as a better way to showcase anger, grief and sorry. I hope if we would have people who can convert their anger into art then there will be no existence of violence and terror. Where art prevail there is no scope of violence.
Why is gender not an integral part of a classical dancers anatomy ?
Indian culture is always lucid and gender friendly. Same reflects in Indian classical dance where a dancer irrespective of male or female can showcase both male and female characters on stage. With dance, a person can enjoy his own identity with grace. For me dance makes me come to terms with the aspects of sexuality and gives me an utmost freedom to speak. As per me, an artist is genderless, like water. You pour into any vessel and he takes the shape.
How can dance articulate LGBTQIA issues and create awareness?
LGBTQIA+ people, community is always kept in fringes. It's either because of lack of awareness and sometimes because of self-predictions that this is a foreign take away. However, In India there are many stories in place which openly celebrates the queerness in a person and as an artist I wanted to bring in these characters to create awareness among people. Sometimes people are not aware of the terminologies like pan sexual, inter sexual and so on and by dance it helps us to bring up stories of such sexualities and orientations and give a big picture of gender continuum with which people associate with the act (dance) and this helps to make a better approach to create awareness.