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Art of attachment

Shenpa, a dance theatre production, explores the Buddhist concept of attachment and tries to analyse how and why we get hooked to something

Shenpa, the Tibetan word for attachment, is a bit more than just that. A looser translation would be the hook, the urge that suspends all logic. A contemporary piece attempts to explore and research this Buddhist thought, and suggest ways to refrain from shenpa.

The idea is to experience shenpa in the body, instrument and text, taking the idea of ‘instability’ as the starting point, explains Swati Mohan, director of the play. Using ‘unstability’ as the key tool to analyse the subject, each dancer will perform with a heeled shoe on one feet and go barefoot on the other, while musicians, a violinist and a percussionist will play their instruments while balancing themselves on a wobble board.

The title ’Shenpa- A Study in Suspended Belief’ suggests how individuals forget all sense of reason to get instant gratification in order to avoid uneasiness. “People turn to their own personal escape mechanism. It can be severe addictions like cigarettes, alcohol, sex. It also includes resorting to retail therapy or junk food, which everyone experiences,” says Swati. People pause their reality and indulge in their urges to escape life’s insecurities.

Researching through dance, theatre and live music, the performers will integrate real-time performance studies for live improvisations. “A lot of it will depend upon the impulse of the dancers at that particular moment,” says Swati.
To take a holistic view of the subject, they also address the subject of shenlok which means renunciation. In order to get unhooked, one must begin by recognising that moment of unease and learn to relax in that moment. It is the process of overcoming habitual patterns and break conditioned practices in self.

Swati’s creations come out from her own personal questions. She believes that through research, art can open a dialogue in the minds of audience. “Live performance has the energy that movies cannot offer,” she says, urging the audience to come forward and be a part of the creative process to experience live energy.

The play will be staged in The Stein Auditorium at the India Habitat Centre on July 29. Drop in to understand what triggers our habitual tendencies and how to stop the madness.