- This event is over.
Conceptualised & directed by Manjari Chaturvedi, the Courtesan Project attempts to recreate the life of Nawab Jaan, the famous courtesan of yesteryear Delhi through the poetry, life and times of Mirza Ghalib with music, dance and storytelling. It is an interplay of literature, history and the performing art woven into a performance.The tawaifs or Courtesans were articulate and well read women who brought literature, poetry, classical music and dance to the mainstream through their work.
Literature has always had its impact on the performing art of its times. Literature, at times prose but largely poetic content has invariably found its way to impact the performing arts. The same was with the courtesans – women performers who were perennial muses for the creative world and yet who were, shunned and discarded by the society.
This project unabashedly delves into the performing art of Darbari Kathak, that spoke volumes about romance, love and eroticism portrayed through music and dance which was brought to life through the grace and the charm of the erstwhile performers. In view of no video recordings available of the erstwhile performers, the dance of the courtesan has been painstakingly recreated from the stance and the postures visible in archival paintings, photographs, description in old texts and most importantly grammatical references in historical texts on the art form of Kathak.
It becomes imperative that we tell the stories of these women performers who have mostly been left out, deliberately, of the documentation of performing arts history in India, except for the few who managed to legitimise themselves by attaining titles like Devi or Begum.
The narrative is largely based on the available historical references, yet at times one does need to delve into an artistic imagination to recreate a persona, which also forms an essential part of this project.
The performance will vividly describe through dance and storytelling the significance of Ghalib’s poetry and the influence of his poetry and the literature of those times, on the famous courtesan “Nawab Jaan”. The stories told are based on comprehensive research made through consultation by eminent academician experts on the life and times of Mirza Ghalib. This proposed performance will recreate and disseminate the awareness about the hitherto unknown facts of the performing art of the courtesans and will also enhance a deeper understanding about the life of courtesans of Delhi.
Manjari Chaturvedi, belongs to Uttar Pradesh, hailing from the Ganga-Jamuni culture of Lucknow, is an extraordinary young dancer, adding subtle innovations to the Kathak repertoire while preserving the tenets of the classical style. With her enchanting stage presence, she is known for her intense, sensitive and graceful Kathak presentations. A danseuse representing Lucknow gharana of Kathak and a Postgraduate in Environmental Sciences, Manjari embodies the Awadhi ethos, bridging the gap between tradition and modernity. Her performances preserve the doctrine of classical temple and darbari forms, yet they are accessible to audiences across the world. Manjari is trained in classical Kathak by Guru Pandit Arjun Mishra. She has developed the detailing of abhinaya (expressions) under Smt. Kalanidhi Narayan and Smt. Priyadarshini Govind, and has worked at Nrityagaram in association with Guru Protima Bedi and Guru Kumudini Lakhia.
Manjari Chaturvedi, has taken the traditional form of Kathak and made it her own in more ways than one. Her productions as a dancer are projects that are meticulously researched, documented, as she first studies the original traditions and then finds her own unique artistic expression of the subject through dance. Manjari has extensively worked on gender sensitive subjects through her medium of dance, exploring the many traditions woven into poetry, music and dance.
She has been the part of the Sufi Symposium at the prestigious Smithsonian Museum Washington D.C. and of the conference on Living heritage by UNESCO and is the Jury and member of “Think Tank on Asian dance” for the prestigious Asian Dance Committee in Korea. In the past decade Manjari Chaturvedi has collaborated and performed with a wide range of international artists as Global Fusion with Tim Ries (Saxophone, Rolling Stones, USA) And Ustad Shujaat Hussain Khan (Sitar, India), Taufiq Quereshi (India), Kailash Kher (India), Kevin Hays (Piano, USA), Dhaffer Yoseuf(Oudh, Vocals, Tunisia), Rahim Al Hajj ( Oudh, Iraq), Patrick Possey (Saxophone, USA), Firas Shahrstan (Qanun, Syria), Micheal Glenn (Bass, USA).
With the establishment of the Sufi Kathak Foundation she has taken a leap further to support marginal artists and provide research opportunities to scholars and students under the banner of the foundation.
Ekant is an Indian stage, television and film actor who has worked in more than 20 plays with over 500 performances across the country including a performance for The Former President of India Smt. Pratibha Patil at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
He has worked with various renowned directors and has been a part of the great productions like Darashikoh directed by the legendary Mr.M.S.Sathyu, Sons of Babur (English) directed by Mr.Tom Alter ,Kuchh Ishq Kiya Kuchh Kaam-on the life of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ghalib, Plaza Suite, Tale of the Taj and many more.