Citations: Three Dances

Citations: Three Dances

Meeraqi Events 2 Comments

(Last Updated On: February 23, 2018)

Citations: Three Dances


A love letter. A commute. A city constructing itself. This evening of contemporary dance navigates the quirky and the overlooked, the exuberant and the meditative. Each unique piece reveals different surfaces and edges of bodies creating structures when nobody is watching, or when everybody is.



Choreography, performance, and text: Poorna Swami

Cartography is a movement-ode, an intimate implosion between word and body. The second in a series of love letters based on original poems, Cartography emerges from the formal romance of Bharatanatyam and collides with more idiosyncratic lexicons to become a disputed map of lust and lament. Cartography premiered at the 2016 La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival in New York City.

Pants Becoming Kites

Choreography: Ellen Oliver in collaboration with Dayita Nereyeth

Performance: Dayita Nereyeth

Original sound composition: Dylan Eldredge Fitzwater (feat. Austin Retzlaff and Maya Sungold)

Pants Becoming Kites was originally conceived as a duet for a student production at Amherst College (USA) in 2014. Ellen has collaborated with Dayita to rework the duet into a quirky and comical solo, exploring the dynamics of waiting and performing. Inspired by the daily commute to work, the movement highlights pedestrian qualities in our daily moments of transit. How can we be inspired by the ordinary?

Long time no see (preview)

Choreography and performance: Dayita Nereyeth and Poorna Swami

Original sound composition: Dara Hankins

Original text: Poorna Swami

We began with a city. Then, we swallowed it. Wandering the remains, our bodies became scaffolding to rebuild a city of our own. Peculiar. Blueprinted. Severe and intimate.

This dance emerged from a game of puzzles and blocks, flesh and skyline–a continual return to the precise wilderness of form and structure. It’s a fuzzy calculation of many derivatives–your body, my metropolis.

Citations: Creative Processes and Inspirations


Cartography began from the premise that dance is poetry and poetry is dance. In this solo, spoken words, along with danced movements, converge into an offering of fleeting sensations that navigate lust and lament. The work employs classicised tropes of love poetry and quirkier, contemporary movement to create complex, repetitive structures of word and body. Through affect, gesture, and a direct, intimate relationship with the audience, Cartography embodies the heightened quality of poetry even though it is made of very simple movement and brief text.

The poem exposes the desire of the female body and allows it to be viewed, consumed, and celebrated on its own terms. By allowing the female body to desire publicly, Cartography strives also for a quiet politics within its sweeping images of moons, deserts, and ever-entangled lovers. At times the movement and text are performed together, created together, and at others, pitted against each other. In these slippages, Cartography tries to lay bare the weight and want of a fundamental human experience—to have loved and lost and always loved.

Cartography is the second in a series of danced love letters that Poorna has been creating since 2015. She premiered Cartography in New York City in 2016, and restaged it in collaboration with Swiss composer, Marcel Zaes, in Bangalore in 2017.

Pants Becoming Kites

In its first iteration in 2014, Pants Becoming Kites was a duet choreographed by Ellen Oliver and performed by Liz Kleisner and Dayita Nereyeth. Three years later, in early 2017, Ellen and Dayita decided to revisit Pants, this time as a solo for Dayita. As Ellen currently lives in Boston (USA) and Dayita is based in Bangalore, theirs is a process of long distance art making. For the restaging, their work in the studio has been separate, but they chat everyday and send each other videos and photos every week. Although this way of working is challenging—especially because of the time difference—the space between them has given the choreography a life beyond the original duet.

Pants is inspired by the daily commute, waiting at bus stops, and the ordinary. It manifests on stage as a witty juxtaposition of pedestrian and performative movement. Currently, Ellen and Dayita are performing the solo Pants across continents. In March, Ellen performs the piece in NYC, and Dayita performs it in Bangalore and Goa.

Long time no see

To be alone is not to be in solitude. This is the equation at the heart of Long time no see, a duet of dance and poetry. Solitude suggests a sense of being content in solitary presence, while loneliness—although solitary—suggests one of turmoil and tension. To be alone is not be lonely. Solitude often emerges from a conscious decision to pull away, while isolation might be created by a forceful pushing out. To be alone is not to be isolated. What does it mean, then, to be alone? What are the various hues of aloneness? When are they fulfilling, devastating, or even violent?

Dayita and Poorna were recently confronted with these questions. They have known each other since childhood—attending the same school and college—and lived and danced in NYC at the same time after graduating. Then, in 2016, they moved back to Bangalore, the city they had both grown up in. On moving back, they found themselves in a space between leaving a city they had grown into, and rediscovering one they thought they knew, but didn’t anymore. They shared concerns about familiarity and disassociation from place, the experience of diaspora and return.

As they had, Bangalore had changed, too. On one hand, it was bursting with new neighbourhoods, restaurants, and people from other places. On the other hand, the city was diminishing, growing lonelier along different arteries. In this hyper-saturated city, they were alone. And the city was alone, too. The city became the location to explore how they were affected by, and affect each other, in their shared urbanity.

In the empty studio, they imagined, constructed, demolished, and rebuilt cities through movement. Where the bodies fell short of grasping at the messy inexplicables of inhabiting cities—being present in them—poems emerged as associative gestures. The dance became one of shared city-like spaces, brimming with intimacy, friction, severity, desolation, romance, heartbreak, camaraderie, humour, and desire. By trying to choreograph the textures of cities they know and ones they imagine, they have been digging at their pulses, their brutality, their sexiness, their architecture, their politics, their unending magnetism.

The bodies move in unison and in conflict. As they build and navigate cities, the dancers address where they each begin, where they end, where they arrive, and where they depart. Through these contestations, the work speaks of the human in cities, of the oscillating and fragile interactions that keep them from imploding. Rather, what keeps the cities always reaching outward, whether in solidarity or solitude.

In Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino writes:

“The city is redundant: it repeats itself so that something will stick in the mind…Memory is redundant: it repeats signs so that the city can begin to exist.”

The dissonance between what is permeable and what is scaffolding, what is remembered and what is rewritten, has been crucial to their process. By delving into that conflict through a danced city, they are also trying to uncover something beyond the lone presence—the city beyond the person.

Lighting design for Citations: Bharavi

Online Booking: Here and on BookMyShow

Tickets at the venue: Rs. 300

Date: Saturday, 3rd March 2018

Time: 6:30 PM and 9 PM

Venue: Meeraqi 

Dayita Nereyeth is a dancer and editor. She has danced professionally with the Yana Lewis Dance Company and Les Ballets Nomades et Sonores. Dayita has performed in restaged pieces by Merce Cunningham (Squaregame and TV Rerun), Delfos Danza Contemporánea/Claudia Lavista and Omar Carrum (Full and Empty), and Diya Naidu (Rorschach Touch), and in new works by Tong Wang, Billbob Brown, Charles Flachs, and Ellen Oliver. She has worked in all aspects of stagecraft at the American Dance Festival and Dixon Place (NYC). Dayita was assistant director on The Gatherer, a short film produced in NYC. She wrote for the online dance magazine, Ligament, at the 2017 Attakkalari India Biennial. In 2017, she performed the role of Lumière in a production of Belle and the Beast by The Lewis Foundation of Classical Ballet. Dayita holds a BA in Dance and Psychology from Mount Holyoke College (USA).

Ellen Oliver is a performer, choreographer, filmmaker, and teacher currently based in Massachusetts. Ellen has collaborated at the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco for Teobi’s Dreaming and OceA Dance Wilderness Residency with Marianne Goldberg at The Yard in Martha’s Vineyard. She is a 2016/2017 Young Artist in Residence at Bearnstow, Maine, and a 2017 Winter Residency Choreographer for OnStage Dance in Somerville, MA. Her 2016 dance short film was screened at international film festivals including Inside/Outside Festival in New Delhi, India, Festival of Recorded Movement in Vancouver, Canada, Videodance Exhibition in the RE-SEARCH Summer Festival in Israel, and the ROLLOUT Dance Film Festival in Macao, China. Ellen has recently performed in works by Lorraine Chapman: The Company, Ali Kenner Brodsky & Co., and Fusionworks Dance Company.

Poorna Swami is a dancer, choreographer, and writer. She has performed her choreography in and around New York City, at the Wassaic Project Festival, Theater for the New City, Gibney Dance, Movement Research, WAXWorks at Triskelion, and La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. She has also performed in dances by Paul Matteson, Gina Leung, Ohad Naharin (restaging), Anne Zuerner, and Lucy Sexton. For the 2017 edition of the Attakkalari India Biennial, Poorna edited Attakkalari’s online dance magazine, Ligament, and facilitated the festival’s Writing on Dance Laboratory. Between 2015-2017 she served as India Editor-at-large of the international online literary journal, Asymptote. Poorna’s writing has featured in publications such as The Caravan, Open Magazine, The Wire, The Hindu BLink, Words Without Borders, Indiana Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Prelude. She holds a BA in Dance-Theatre and English from Mount Holyoke College (USA).

Comments 2

  1. Thank you for last night’s Citations performance. I found it moving, yearnful, elegiac, elemental, cosmic, playful, energizing, and hopeful, amongst many other emotions experienced. The choreography and movement felt freeing and powerful, although I’m no expert.

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