“The Common Thread, many threads unite as one”
The journey of the Sari celebrated in dance by The Daksha Sheth Dance Company
The conversation about Sari seems to flourish in ways I could never have imagined when I started writing about it. From words now it moves to inspire dance and music, as the renowned choreographer Daksha Sheth has created her new show ‘Sari’ and brought it to England.
The show was conceived when close friend the Sari historian and author of many books on the subject Rta Kapur Chishti asked Daksha Seth to adapt her latest book ‘Saris: Tradition and Beyond’ into a dance production. Their concerns were of the plight of the handloom weavers. “They were having to burn their handlooms as firewood to make their food as they have no work” says Daksha Seth. As traditional handloom industries give way to machine-made saris, a great heritage is disappearing. The production was conceived as a celebration of the handloom industry through the eyes of the weavers, to create an appreciation for the ancient skills involved in the creation of saris. “It is our duty to help the people who have kept the traditions for generations, if we do not step in who is going to help them?” says Daksha Sheth.
The Daksha Sheth Dance Company incorporates traditional Indian movement with dynamic and innovative aerial performance putting them at the forefront of Indian dance. The performance of ‘Sari’ is mesmerising and heart warming, bringing to life each process involved using the physical relationship of the body with the making of fibres, cloth and dyeing and the rhythm of human movement along with the sound of shuttles and bobbins of the looms. They use ropes and cloth in beautiful aerial work featuring Daksha’s daughter Isha Sheth and innovative clapping of hands and feet to produce the simple acappella sounds of the looms. This is also simply a celebration of iconic garment still worn everyday by millions of asian men and women.
When asked about sari wearing today, Daksha comments “Sari is important because it is an unstitched garment so it gives you the freedom to wear it however you want to. Secondly, sari is a timeless garment which you can pass on to your grandchildren.”
“I believe that if the young generation are aware of what it takes to make textile, the awareness and the information of the skills, if this is passed on then the appreciation will be on a different scale. I am very positive about this.”
The messages woven through the performance feed into the heart of India’s new mantra directly from previous President Narendra Modhi of the 5 F’s textile formula to protect the cotton farmers of Punjab - Farm, Fibre, Fabric, Fashion, Foreign. Always seen as an outsourcing base for textiles, India has the opportunity to embrace it’s powerhouse craft skills and manufacturing industry for it’s own purpose and to show the world it’s full capability. Let’s hope these intentions follow through but we can also all be involved in the process by engaging with textile on a more conscious level, sharing our understanding of the skills involved and experiment with sari to make it inspiring for future generations.
Sari was on show at the Birmingham MAC 23rd & 24th September and is show at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre and Tramway Glasgow as part of India at UK 2017 http://indiaatuk2017.com/dance&theatre/sari-dance/