Squeezing in as much time as possible together in the dance studio, Mythili Prakash and her collaborating musicians are rehearsing their new work “Poo | Poo” for the Erasing Borders Dance Festival. Presented annually in New York City by the Indo-American Arts Council, the festival, this year, is celebrating India’s 75th anniversary of independence. Four days away from the premiere, Prakash and her musicians are still figuring out the ending. But that may be because of the collaborative nature of this endeavor (as well as the fact that half of them were stricken with Covid during one of their dedicated rehearsal periods). The role of this ensemble of four musicians is quite expanded from the usual Bharatanatyam (classical dance form from South India) set-up where the musicians sit in a row on the side of the stage and play music while the dancer dances. In a break with this classical aesthetic—these musicians are integral to the choreographic process, they move around onstage, and vocal artist Ganavya Doraiswamy even plays a double bass and dances. They are also some of the foremost virtuosos and emerging scholars in the field of boundary-pushing classical Indian music as well as close friends and family of the choreographer (her brother Aditya Prakash is a vocal force of nature).
Mythili Prakash in “Here and Now.” Photograph by Teresa Elwes