Friday, January 20, 2023

Performance space

At the end of Elliot's Beach Road - rather at its start, for the address is 1, Elliot's Beach Road - is a secluded space, born of one woman's vision: the dancer Chandralekha wanted to establish an artistic-human space within the city. She wanted artists and performers on their human scale to be juxtaposed against the eternal "elemental scale of the sea and the sky". The beach at Besant Nagar was another performance space for her, and it was appropriate that her vision took shape right next to it. 

Established in 2000, SPACES is nestled in a corner at the northern end of Besant Nagar beach. From the road, one does not see any buildings; the stone walls and the wooden gates seem to contain just some greenery within them. But there is more. Chandralekha wanted it to be known over the world as "a Performance Space - a Sacred Space - a Sun and Moon Space - a Sky and Sea Space". And so within the walls, there are a few buildings: a stage with a tiled-roof (and minimal arrangements for lights / audio), a kalari (arena) and some office-cum-residential quarters. There is also the Chandralekha archives, but I haven't had a chance to see those yet.

I'm not sure about the last 3 kinds of spaces, but SPACES is certainly a favourite with teachers / learners of kalaripayattu, and with performers who are keen to explore alternate forms and interpretations, which may not find favour with more traditional performance venues. It is also a good place to rehearse for a performance elsewhere. You will be undisturbed, there is enough elbow room to simulate what you might wish to do on an even bigger stage. And that is what the folks here are trying. No, don't worry about them, they're all okay. In fact, they are all quite superb performers. It is just that they're loosening up in a seemingly unsynchronised fashion before beginning rehearsals for their play. SPACES does that to one!

PS: If you would like to see them on stage, that's easily done. The next show of the production they were rehearsing for is on January 27 (2023) at the Narada Gana Sabha. Get your tickets by clicking this BookMyShow link. 
Bonus - you get to watch me, too :)

1 comment:

Anand (a) Sahas said...

Wow, super write up. Thanks for sharing a lot of details that not many know about.