Parvathi Nayar

The Hindu

July 12, 2011

Review : Beautiful Thing 2

Solo about stillness

Beautiful Thing 2 (BT2), the only Indian performance and a Festival commission, was by Chennai-based contemporary dancer/choreographer Padmini Chettur. BT2 is Chettur’s 11th creation, and marks her return to the solo.

Why Chettur? “Padmini’s exploration of the body is very interesting; it is easy to see why she is considered a protégée of Chandralekha,” Low replies. “Padmini’s contemporary approach to dance, as well as her tutelage under Chandralekha, makes her a perfect fit for the Festival, which deals with the idea of memory.

Chettur says, “For me, working in Asia is very particular, as there aren’t so many platforms.” She shares that the SAF commission was an opportunity to premiere the work under “very good technical conditions,” with a budget that allowed her to work with her European collaborators.

BT2’s premiere in Singapore showed Chettur’s minimalist aesthetic strongly in play. If Chettur’s last work, Beautiful Thing 1, was a group performance about movement dynamics, her latest work, BT2, was experienced as a solo about stillness. The piece focussed on the body as an object rather than on rhythm and motion.

The piece’s movements were small, controlled and repeated through linear trajectories, and presented as nine short studies in space. Chettur seemed to be dealing with the body as a container of energy, and exploring the precise transfers of energy needed, say, from the shoulder to the arm to swing it around, or to propel a rotating body moving across the floor.

An intrinsic part of BT2 was the lighting by Jan Maertens that used some 100 lights to create tangible spaces of darkness and brightness within which the piece unfolded. Also complementing the “silence of the body” as presented by Chettur was the soundscape by Maarten Visser. Motifs such as the sound of whirring fans subtly suggested interiors – such as the studio space where the process of BT2 might have been worked out.