Tantidhatri: Second Edition was held at Ranga Shankara, Kappanna Angala and Shoonya in Bangalore from the 17th to the 21st of February, 2016. Artists from 13 different countries were a part of this festival: India’s first International Performing Arts Festival. The festival embraced a diversity of expressions of women in different fields, including theatre, dance, music, sculpture and social change.
All the Artistes at Tantidhatri are dedicated practitioners of their work and art forms, and the festival allowed a glimpse of their work. The performances themselves were, of course testimonials of their practice, whether tried and tested pieces like Julia Varley’s Ave Maria, or experimental new work like Parvathy Baul and Bahauddin Dagar’s Rudrayogini, which was performed for the first time.
Tantidhatri was also a melting pot of different ways of engaging with art, spirituality, politics etc. The traditional Theyyam performances bespoke great discipline by the practitioners in the elaborate costumes and movements. Kaal was another experimental pieces, marrying the three forms of Contemporary Dance, Bharatanatyam and Baul. 1, Madhav Baug, offered the audience an interactive experience, where the stage opened for questions and comments after a short play. It was a rich space of vulnerability and sharing as people could open up their own lives and experiences in relation to the play.
In a step forward from the last Tantidhatri in Pondicherry, this festival included a segment called ‘Interactions with Social Change’, where women leaders in the political field: Khushi Kabir, Kamla Bhasin, Vandana Shiva and A. Revathi spoke of their journeys and challenges as they walk the path of resistance and evolve creative new ways to engage with changing populations to fight for equality and justice.
Another segment, ‘Interactions with the Performing Arts’, offered a glimpse into the practice and discipline of the artists, through work demonstrations. Not only were the work demonstrations inspirational, charting the artists’ personal journeys, but the dedication of the artists themselves was evident. The Kaal team would arise at 5 am every morning to rehearse for their performance on the last day. On the day of her performance, Carolina Pizarro fasted until her work demonstration at 2 pm, and spent the entire morning in the rehearsal space, along with her director Julia Varley.
The workshops offered a wide array of experiences. Some involved the participants in movement, song and practice, while others were inspirational story-sharing. Sin Cha Hong, a 75 year-old dancer from Korea, who is well-known the world over and has worked with accomplished artists and received many awards, spoke so simply and so humbly about her journey and the many ups and downs that she had been through.
Mealtimes were open spaces for participants, organisers and artists to interact with each other, as they got to know each others’ journeys and lives. For five days, all participants of Tantidhatri come together as a family, constantly taking care of the festival as their own.
One of the most special aspects of the festival was the love and the care with which work was done for it. There was a spirit of being held in the Divine Feminine, and the volunteering team, artists and participants all held the space with a reverence for that divine spirit. Everyone took ownership of the wellbeing of the festival and played each part with care. This familial spirit was visible to all who entered that sacred space and experienced its magic.
The magic was multiplied by the generosity with which the artists shared themselves and their practice, open and willing to help in any way they could. The two inner circles, one to begin and one to end the festival, created spaces of vulnerability and grace, where everyone could share their struggles and joys and truth.
It is said that tears are the beholders of truth, and many tears of joy and sadness were shared during this Tantidhatri as experiences touched the souls of those who were blessed to witness it.
This festival is an important experience now and in the time to come, where people seeking genuineness and truth and come together to share their experiences and learnings. It is a space that inspires, and one that opens doors to newer and greater works of art. Everyone who was touched by the magic of Tantidhatri left refreshed and inspired, charging to do more meaningful work in the world. May this festival continue to thrive and hold its participants in the Divine Spirit as we all do our parts in service to the world.
Photos By: Aarthi Parthasarathy and Shalaka Pai