For two shows only, 22-23 September, FORM Dance Projects, together with Riverside Theatres, will present Urban Kali, a contemporary multidisciplinary performance that integrates dance, installation and film. The creator and performer of Urban Kali, Rakini Devi, who was born in Kolkata and is based in Sydney, is known for her work that challenges notions of race, culture, social issues and new technologies. This latest work explores themes of female “shame”, and showcases the female form as both ritual and artefact, in Indian society, as well as in other cultures.
On the title of the work, Devi says, “’Urban’ is a metaphor for contemporary, or secular, life in contrast to sacred themes, and ‘the past’. [Hindu Goddess] Kali’s iconography, situated within an urban environment, is an attempt to address the relevance of sacred female iconography to address issues of the feminine in the modern world.”
She continues, “My approach to performing Hindu Goddess iconography or dismantling Indian classical dance modes into a contemporary vocabulary does not stem from contesting the value of these classical or sacred traditions. By creating contemporary works using my own cultural heritage in dance, I use tradition as a means of transgressing concepts whilst retaining the respect and pride I feel for my own culture.”
Devi says dance is an ideal platform to address issues that may be relevant to her and may encourage conversation. “Dance unlike visual arts or time-based performance, is immediate, confronting and unique in that it speaks directly to an audience,” she explains. “I don’t believe dance should necessarily address political or social issues, but it has been my practice to engage with subjects that have context and meaning for myself, drawn from the lived experience of living between two cultures.”
She is also grateful to organizations like FORM Dance Projects, which allow her the outlet to communicate such ideas. FORM’s initiatives include presentation, producing, education, community engagement and audience development. It aims to support Australian choreographers in all stages of their career.
“FORM has been an incredible support for an independent artist like myself, who has had no funding for over a decade, making the creating of new work impossible,” Devi shares. “Without a platform for new creation, an artist at any stage of their career cannot move forward or share their vision, which, after all, is the purpose of every artist.”
Devi will be holding a masterclass on Saturday 16 September, for professional dancers and advanced contemporary dance students to explore cross-cultural dance vocabulary. The class will be an opportunity for dancers who are looking for new choreographic tools. All participants will receive a complimentary ticket to the Urban Kali performance on Friday 22 September.
Rakini Devi’s Urban Kali will be presented 22-23 September, 8pm, at Riverside Theatres. For tickets, visit riversideparramatta.com.au/show/urban-kali/. For more information on the masterclass or to register, head to www.form.org.au/urban-kali/.
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.