I meet Raka in the dance studio for the third time, and it’s a pleasure to learn the company is going from strength to strength. In front of me, five dancers including Maitra herself are dancing in perfect unison. The work, I learn later, is deliberately slow to allow Maitra to explore the torso movement in Odissi. The ensemble of fantastic dancers migrates downstage with the precision of an army and incredible beauty in each delicate but precise gesture. The right foot stamps strongly in the ground, and I can feel vibrations run through me. I shiver even as I follow a drop of sweat slowly building upon Maitra’s chin and gradually dripping down to her clavicle bone as she tilts right and left.
Pallavi with Stillness is an opportunity for audiences to slow down and zoom into the many details that Odissi can offer. Maitra adds, ‘slowing down the build-up rhythmic sections allows me to see everything’. Traditionally, Pallavi builds up to a fast pace, but by deconstructing the material and slowing down the rhythms, we can actually see the moments between dance phrases, even the transition from one arm gesture to a stamp on the ground. Nothing seems left out, and the dancers are incredibly wholesome, in control and in-charge of their bodies as midpoints to serve choreography.
It’s beautiful to see this ensemble dancing in the studio. Pallavi with Stillness is the last piece on a tryptic built with love over the previous two years; it is also the last time Maitra will be dancing on stage. She is taking a step away from the stage, and a step further in the dance studio dedicating all her time to choreography.