SAIIER 2019:On the way to the Inner Chamber
"On the way to the Inner Chamber": Researching and developing a new dramaturgy and theatrical form for a new consciousness
Inspired by the Integral yoga, how to create a new kind of performance that integrates body language, body memories, energy, sounds, legends, mythologies and mantric poetry?
Inspired by the writings of Sri Aurobindo, by new technologies and science, how to create a new kind of dramaturgy for a new kind of performance, in order to reach all audiences, especially the youth, and to transmit the power of the ancient scriptures in a contemporary way?
Description of project:
This research project was under the direction of Philippe assisted by Thierry and Gopal and with the guidance of Barbara. We collaborated with Svaram (Auroville unit) for the work on frequencies and music, and Mohit Arora for the video. We started this research in May 2018 and ended it in March 2019. It happened mainly in Ritam in our working space in a hut, and also outdoors in the open air directly connected to Nature.
First we tried to define and explore a process, a method, practice to approach this new kind of theatre made with: self-concentration, work on frequencies, mantric poetry, body memories, improvisation and then creation of a performance as an output of the research.
The practice of the Integral yoga invites us “by a self-concentration inwards or upwards, by self-opening to an Influence, to the Divine Power above us and its workings, to the Divine Presence in the heart, and by the rejection of all that is foreign to these things. It is only by faith, aspiration and surrender that this self-opening can come.” (Sri Aurobindo, “Letters on Yoga – II”)
In this new dramaturgy inspired by Integral yoga, the actor/dancer is invited to be present to the Presence. The artist becomes a real yogi looking for the truth. Truth of his emotion, of his feeling, truth of his relation with the world and his partners on stage.
Silence is the first experience for the actor/dancer who wants to explore this: silence in the mind, in the cells and self-concentration to welcome the Presence and to surrender.
The actor/dancer becomes like a yogi, a seeker of the truth and he must have from beginning a clear aspiration to explore in the unknown.
b) Frequencies: Nonverbal vibrational universal communication and communion
“Different scientific studies have established today what the Indians established thousands of years ago without the aid of any equipment... Sound pulsates throughout the body and makes it a force. The human consciousness is affected by sound. It affects the different layers of the mind.” (Sameer Khanwalker)
Neuroscience has proven that sound interacts directly with brainwaves and provokes different states of consciousness and emotions, and then different kind of movement.
We experienced how some frequencies can create the sensation of a dislocated body creating broken movements.
We experienced the opposite as well: how some frequencies can create harmony and reconnection with the center.
We choose during our process some frequencies for concentration and focus. And some other frequencies which can help for creativity.
It was important to research and experience different frequencies which can provoke a movement in brain and body from ordinary to expanded consciousness, to trance and waking dream and finally to extend that to dance, expression on stage.
In our research we used principally the frequencies:
- Isolation dance: Frequency interaction 340 Hz, 173 Hz, 170 Hz with pulsation of 3 Hz, 8 Hz
- Shaking dance : Frequency interaction 480 Hz, 360 Hz, 120 Hz with pulsation of 4–6 Hz
c) Mantric poetry
“When the mantras are chanted in a peaceful atmosphere, they generate a positive effect. And when more people chant the mantras, specially the Gayatri, together, it generates a tremendous energy that resonates throughout the body and has a great impact on the body and mind.” (Sameer Khanwalker)
In the Inner Chamber research project we experienced ‘organically’ some mantras connected to the body’s perceptions and sensations. We started by the famous “Hanuman Chalisa” written by Tulsidas which has been fervently recited by millions of people for centuries. We started with the Hanuman Chalisa because Gopal, our dancer, is a Hanuman devotee and also because, this poem/prayer is very famous in India.
A moving and beautiful choreography and dance was created to welcome the pulsation of the mantric words as an impulse that gives life and allows a movement to flourish.
Philippe who directed all the choreography and research asked to Gopal the dancer to really listen deeply the poem, to try to drop all his dance habits, to be fully present and be surprised by the inner impulses.
At the very beginning of the research Gopal repeated Hanuman Chalisa and let his body move freely in the space without any control or aesthetic direction. Then very quickly the emotion came, the tears, the feeling of struggle and lot of personal memories and we didn't stop for hours repeating this poem; and step by step this connected the dancer to inner and unknown dimension, totally Vast and full, dense.
We tried to experience in our body the effect of Mantric poetry, also in our flesh, in our breath and movements. We understood by this practice that this interaction is possible thanks to the rhythm.
We experienced that we could reach the highest intensity of energy by the repetition of the poem and by movement based on regular rhythm.
“What Sri Aurobindo calls the highest expression, which is poetical in character is, let us say, it is mantra. And in India, mantra is that rhythmic expression which, when recited, produces a physical effect” (Kireet Joshi)
After Hanuman Chalisa we experienced some parts of Savitri. Working on the experience of mantric poetry in Auroville, it was natural to try exploring a bit Savitri. The dancer Gopal didn’t understand the meaning of the words, but his body after a time of concentration and silence, when the recitation of the poem respected a certain rhythm, started to react with inner movement. Then Gopal was surprised to see his body dancing alone like in a deep inner world. He felt his body radiating larger and larger. He entered in another dimension. In a way totally new and in another way totally known from within, and finally the dancer was living exactly the scene, the action that Sri Aurobindo was describing in his text. Beyond the mind, the body, the soul in the body resonates to the mantric vibration in the poetry in Savitri.
d) Body memories
Body memories were awakened by sounds and frequencies, mantric poetry and breathing.
We also experienced ‘Rebirth practice’ and ‘shaking dance’. Both are deep practices coming from ‘first people’, which help to modify safely the state of consciousness and to connect with deep body memories to transform and heal them, and to reconnect the dancer with the Universal source and a highest energy.
We also used Gopal’s mother’s voice for the connection with a deep memory.
“Because of the physical, emotional, overall connection with the mother from the beginning of life, the mother’s voice has special psychological and developmental components”. (Monika Nöcker-Ribaupierre)
“Develop your inner being – find your soul, and at the same time you will find the true artistic expression.” (Mother on Art)
After working on self-concentration, frequencies, mantric poetry and body memories, and all these processes of inner-being development, the actor/dancer is now ready to improvise and to experience expression.
Philippe the artistic director decided to work through improvisation, giving a free space to the performers to find their dance, movement, character, inner energy. “[Improvisation] is experienced as a tool to disconnect the body’s potential from the mind’s limitations.” (Thomas Hauert)
We improvised dance, movement, theatre on different themes and directions. First was the connection with the five elements and nature: we explored our relationship with trees, plants. We also explored and improvised about disconnection with Nature.
Then we explored the feeling of suffocation, limitation and the opposite: the call of the Vastness, our relationship with Vastness. Many quotes from Sri Aurobindo and Mother inspired these improvisations.
Then we explored the connection with Himalaya. And Gopal, with his Nepalese origin, had to find in his body the memory of this Himalaya and also the exile, the rupture and the reconnection. We also improvised about the notion of Mother. Divine Mother, Mother Earth, blood mother, Sagarmatha, Goddess of the sky and mountain (Everest).
f) Process of creation of VAST, as output of our research for a new dramaturgy
Nothing was predetermined neither written; the experience of the improvisation revealed a direction for Vast and step by step from the bodies of the dancers/actors a story came and a form, offering an integral experience with bodies, movements, frequencies, voices , emotions, archetypes.
Words and texts came in the very last phase of the process.
|Story: This is the story of a young boy from Nepal who has been snatched from his family and home in the Himalaya mountains. Kidnapped and abused, he now lives in a slum in a big city in India.|
He is all alone in the world, stifling in his small room. Beyond confinement and misery, he tries, day after day, to find in his body a door that opens to the Vast, a path to his Himalaya, Nature, and his own unlimited nature.
An encounter with a strange character helps him on his journey. This is the god Hanuman, with monkey and human features, who is heroic, wise, and full of humor.
For this character we were inspired by the story of the Ramayana. We developed in a contemporary way the character of Hanuman as an archetype of the monkey god so important in Indian mythology. The monkey god can be found in ancient scriptures all over Asia in different forms, like Sun yu Kung the monkey king in Chinese opera. He is accessible to everyone in the world today.
It was important for the actors to explore the character of the monkey as it is an important archetype in the acting tradition. Hanuman is god, human and animal, allowing the performer actor to explore all these dimensions in himself. This also has been an experience that we can say is inspired by new dramaturgy and Integral yoga.
We also experienced how the story of the character performed by Gopal, the young exiled man trying to reconnect with his own vastness, can be a universal story.
a) A methodology for the research of a new dramaturgy
- We created a process to experience a new dramaturgy inspired by Integral yoga with different steps: silence and self-concentration, work on frequencies, experiencing mantric poetry, body memories, improvisation and creative process.
b) In the spirit of Integral yoga, we created a path for a new dramaturgy. We call it: “Theatre of Manifestation”
- “Guided by the conviction that intuition allows much more complex and unexpected results than a process based on initial verbalization, the choreographer deliberately leaves his projects very open, aware that the encounter between his initiative and that of the dancers will unleash an unforeseeable result.” (Thomas Hauert)
- In this new dramaturgy process there is nothing pre-determined, nothing written before the starting of the experience. If it was predetermined, it would have been a reproduction of the past. In our process, we just look for an empty space and calm inner state for the expression of what need to be expressed here and now, connected to the Presence. It is fully open and the creation is made to its multidimensional potentials.
c) We proposed a transformational experience
- This new dramaturgy experience proposes a transformation of the performer as the transformation of the audience. It is also the transformation of our superficial and fragmentary way to see the world, to feel the world into a deep and new consciousness where there is no more duality, where everything is interconnected. It is a poetic way to experience the oneness of the world and to propose a path from our ordinary human way to live into a divine way of life. The goal of this theatre is to awaken the divine consciousness which lie in the cells of the performer as in the cells of each spectator.
d) Output: Creation of the show VAST
- Big success: three performances at the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium on the 15th, 16th, 17th of February 2019. The venue was full for each performance. We welcomed about 1,800 people in total on these three evenings, both Aurovilians and guests.
- One performance at the Tantrotsav festival in Edayanchavadi.
- One performance at the Festival des Francophonies in Pondichéry.
- We’ll go soon for a national Indian tour including Auro University in Surat, Indian festivals and the French Alliance.
- In 2020 this show will be performed abroad. For performance and tour we work under Auroville Art Service.
- For VAST we did photo shooting and editing and created a booklet. We shot and edited a video and a trailer, in collaboration with students of Last School.
- We collaborated with different units: Auroville Radio TV, Auroville Art Service, Svaram, French Pavilion, New Creation dance studio, News & Notes, Outreach Media, Bharat Nivas, Ritam and Nandini.
- Artistically and technically the level of the performance was professional at international standard level.
In this new dramaturgy action and creation are “the expression of the true, the light, the divine Ananda bliss. But for that the surrender of the mortal mind, life and body to the higher consciousness is indispensable, since is too difficult for the mortal human being to pass by its own effort beyond mind to a supramental consciousness in which the dynamism is no longer mental but of quite another power.” (From the Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga compiled from the writings of Sri Aurobindo by M.P Pandit)
So clearly this new dramaturgy is only possible with actor dancers who are ready to surrender and ‘to accept the call of such change’. It is to experience art, performing art and dramaturgy like a practice of Integral yoga.
The challenge was really to be sure that the artists were totally ready for this inner adventure.
What we learned is how to create a sadhana to reach this new dramaturgy.
The aim of this new dramaturgy like the aim of Integral yoga itself is: “To bring the Supramental power of that divine consciousness down into the ignorance of mind, life and body, to transform them, to manifest the Divine here and create a divine life in Matter.” (Ibid.)
The final object for this yogi, dancer and performer is “to enter into and be possessed by the Divine Presence and Consciousness” and to be on stage the instrument of the divine.
We want to keep this intent and this level of energy and quality, consciously, in our daily practice. We also wish to spread the show VAST.
Thanks to the performances of VAST in Auroville, in India and abroad and also thanks to the courses and training programs proposed, we hope to share with the maximum of people this new dramaturgy inspired by the Integral yoga of Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
Our intention now is to develop and extend our research. This time we will focus on the energy and presence of the actor dancer inspired by Integral yoga.