Migration through movement

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Raghav Handa’s dance vocabulary has often been described as “a refined combination of delicate linear masculinity, speed and precision”. The dancer says he owes that enriched dance vocabulary to his rich Indian heritage.

Handa, who will be part of the Next Wave Festival 2014, will be performing at Dancehouse throughout May, a performance described as an untangling of his personal experience of identity and migration through the rhythmic power of dance, music and material memory.

According to the organizers of Next Wave, Handa, who is from New South Wales, will be taking his audience through his own migratory experience from the shores of India to boarding school in Sydney. In ‘Tukre’ (meaning ‘pieces’ in Hindi), Handa will explore how cultural lineage and rites of passage transcend borders and oceans. “The performance is inspired by my story of how I arrived in Australia from India to attend boarding school. The dance work explores the shifting connections between the past, present and future and the importance of family,” he says.

For his journey to Australia, Handa says his mother packed seemingly commonplace objects such as needle and thread, a wooden spoon, spices and a frying pan for his survival in a new land. The objects now form part of a charged dialogue between performer and audience.

Along with these everyday items that Handa still has today, he says he will use family heirlooms throughout the performance, some of which he has never held with his own hands, including his mother’s 19th century necklace and dazzling saris to create a moving memory map of his life and family heritage. “It’s less about being Indian or coming from and Indian background, it’s more about coming from my mother and my father’s family,” says Handa.

His choreography, he says, will incorporate delicate yet masculine movements inspired by his grandfather’s trade as a jewel-maker. Jewelling techniques of cutting, shaving and shining, also known as faceting techniques, are replicated in Handa’s choreography including the smelting of gold and the cutting of gemstones.

Handa has in the past worked with leading Australian choreographers including Marilyn Miller, Martin del Amo, Vicki van Hout, Narelle Benjamin and Sue Healey. In 2012, he choreographed his first solo work KumKum, which premiered at Freshly Squeezed (PACT).

Published in The Indian Sun (Indian Magazine in Australia)

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