When I entered 1 Elliots Beach Road in Chennai, I had to sit myself down for a few moments, to grasp the beauty and warmth that the place exuded. SPACES, as 1 Elliots Beach Road is known, was the late dancer-choreographer Chandralekha’s abode: a reflection of everything beautiful that Chandralekha embodied.
Chandralekha was the legendary Indian dancer and choreographer. With her rigorous training in classical Bharatnatyam, she went on to explore and define contemporary dance for India. Angika: Traditions of Dance and Body Language in India (1985), marked Chandralekha’s return to dance after over a decade of withdrawal. With Angika, the human body was celebrated for the first time in the vocabulary of dance combined with martial arts (Kalaripayattu) and yoga. Chandralekha’s question – “Where does the body begin… and end?” — resulted in many other productions following Angika. These includedLilavati: Traditions of Natya, Kavya, Ganita (1989); Prana: Traditions of Natya and Asana(1990); Sri: Traditions of Women and Empowerment (1991); Yantra: Dance Diagrams(1994); Mahaka: Invoking Time (1995); Raga: In Search of Femininity (1998); Shloka: Of Self And Renewal (1999); and Sharira: Fire/Desire (2001), all hailed as landmarks of contemporary dance in India.