Independent artist | Founder Director at Alif Arts Consultancy • he/they
An IFA Grantee (2021-22), a Global ISPA Fellow 2022 and a Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies Grantee (2019), I am an artist, curator and arts manager. I come from the hereditary Langha community of musicians. Trained in the Indian "classical" dance forms of Bharatanatyam and Kathak, I have 4 full-length solo works and 2 ensemble productions to my credit. My work explores ideas of identity and belonging through the oral, literary and cultural heritage of the subcontinent. I am invested in finding the secular and contemporary in these "classical" forms. From festival production to stage management, curation and programming, I continue to explore the many facets of arts management. I have a decade long experience in the conception, organisation, and execution of small and large-scale arts events and festivals. I also facilitate and teach a course in arts management that focuses on the Indian performing arts ecosystem. My curatorial work explores the multiplicity and diversity of culture in the Indian subcontinent. I am fascinated by the cross-cultural occurrences that have produced various art forms and seek to bring them from the margins to the centre. This has led to two self-produced festivals: "Koi Suntā Hai - A festival of Bhakti, Nirgun & Sufi Poetry" and "The Platform," which features emerging dancers from various genres. Academically, I hold a bachelor's degree in Physiotherapy.
Dance, Music, Theater, Oral Traditions, Literature
Dancing Without Gods
How do two non-Hindu bodies engage with a dance form that has been soaked in Hindu mythology? How does the process of reinvention of a dance form like Bharatnatyam sit in relation to the values enshrined in our constitution? At the time when the constitution of this country was being written to safeguard the interests of its citizens, particularly the marginalised minorities, what kind of forces led to the reinvention of its dance forms that was driven entirely by upper-caste Hindu interests and imaginations?
What kinds of unimagined trajectories would a form like Bharatnatyam have taken if, at the time when the constitution of the country was being framed, all its dance forms had been declared secular by law? What value would the secular have brought to these dance forms? Would a secular framework have allowed for these forms to be impacted and enriched by the lived experiences of its practitioners? Could the secular have rescued these dance forms from the thick cloud of reverence that emerges from their allegiance to religiosity? Would the secular have safe-guarded these dance forms from the repressive grips of the state that has dedicatedly stifled the creative potential and critical abilities of these forms by linking them to an imagined ancient history?
Mandeep Raikhy and I met in Bangalore and spoke about some of this. In response to some of these burning questions, we set up an exploration between three elements: our bodies, the architecture of Bharatnatyam and the banner with SECULAR INDIA written on it. The immediacy of each others' bodies and a constant negotiation with the banner began to disrupt the Bharatnatyam vocabulary in several ways. The outcome of our exploration is a provocation- What does it feel like to dance without the gods?
Conceived & Directed by : Mandeep Raikhy
Performers: Masoom Parmar & Mandeep Raikhy
Aaj ke Naam
A dedication to today, an ode to the times in which we live. "Aaj ke Naam", choreographed and performed by Masoom Parmar, takes anecdotes about religious identity, body image issues, love and loss from his life and interweaves them with songs by Meera, Kabir, Shah Latif and Shaikh Ayaz, presented in Bharatanatyam vocabulary. It reflects the need to belong - to oneself, to a person, to a community, to a higher being. The themes explored are universal in nature, making the performance deeply personal to the audience as well. The work attempts to break the religious boundaries attributed to Bharatanatyam and uses the dance form as a movement vocabulary.
The work premiered in Nov 2019 at the Sangam Festival, Melbourne.
Choreographed & Performed by: Masoom Parmar
Music: Yunus Parmar, Bindhumalini Narayanaswamy, Vedanth Bharadwaj, Gurupriya Athreya, Allan Faqir
Light Design: Sudeep Raj
2019, Sangam Festival, Melbourne
Rorschach Touch is an exploration of perception in the context of gendered bodies, but with a desire to move beyond gendered constraints. It hopes to ask the viewer - "How do you see?" It allows and invites you to get close to the performers by really leaning in, but it also offers a sensory experience evoked by movement and touch. It is a deeply personal work and treats the body and its conditions with sensitivity, humor and intense openness.
Choreographed by: Diya Naidu
Produced by: Goethe-Institut Bangalore
Supported by: Shoonya - Centre for Art and Somatic Practices
Performed by: Ajeesh K Balakrishnan, Akshata Joshi, Asha Ponikiewska, Dayita Nereyeth, Masoom Parmar, Niranjan Harish, Anishaa Tavag, Nihal Pasha, Priyabrat Panigrahi, Pia Bungalowala
Created for Gender Bender 2016 produced by Sandbox Collective and Goethe-Institut Bangalore.
Feb 2017 - Dec 2020, Bangalore/Manipal/Kolkata
On Living with the World
We spend our whole lives here, whether we like it or not. We have countless experiences to share, some to relive and some to forget. Some of them offer us comfort and hope and yet many push us to despair, they shape who we are. 'On living with this world' seeks to explore this through movement, from the body and beyond.
'On living with the world' assumes that everything is the stage, that all bodies are present, that the performers and the performance are everywhere in the space. Some of the experiences are visual, some auditory, some tactile, and some perhaps even olfactory. By engaging with these experiences, we will create a performance together.
Premiered in 2018 at Shoonya - Centre for Art and Somatic Practices
Performers Diya Naidu, Priyabrat Panigrahi, Dayita Nereyeth, Anishaa Tavag, Shikhar Martolia, Masoom Parmar, Ajeesh K Balakrishnan, Pia Bungalowala and Poorna Swami
Directed by Vinod Ravindran
Sound Design: Sachin Gurjale
Video: Priyanshi Vasani
2018, Shoonya - Centre for Art and Somatic Practices
Aarabdh, meaning beginning, is ironically my last performance in the Margam format. Choreographed by Guru Kiran Subramanyam and Sandhya Kiran, the work contains some rare krithis from the Bharatanatyam repertoire. The performance premiered on Feb 10, 2018 at Seva Sadan, Bangalore.
Choreographed by: Sri Kiran Subramanyam and Sandhya Kiran
Performed by: Masoom Parmar
Music ensemble: Sri Kiran Subramanyam (nattuvangam), Ramya Janakiraman (taala), Raghu Ram (vocal), Mahesha Swamy (flute), S Lingaraju (mridangam)
Light design: Nagaraj T Marihonnaiah
Apr 2017 - Feb 2018, Bangalore
Shoonya - Centre for Art and Somatic Practices
Worked as a program manager and curator at Shoonya - Center for the Arts and Somatic Practices from July to September 2019. Here I conceived and implemented The Platform, a festival for emerging dancers of all genres.
Shoonya is a non-profit multi-arts center in the heart of Bangalore at Lalbagh Road. A light-filled space surrounded by beautiful palm trees, Shoonya is meant to be a platform for art and somatic practices.
It has been thoughtfully designed for people of different artistic disciplines and somatic practices to create, connect and collaborate. We provide a space for artists and the community to engage; an open and nurturing environment for people from different cultures and ages to share knowledge and experiences around creativity, performance, holistic health and education.
Shoonya - Centre for Art and Somatic Practices
Jul 2019 - Sep 2019, Bangalore
I curated and produced The Platform, during my stint with Shoonya Centre for Arts & Somatic Practices. As the name suggests, the Platform features work by young dancers from the city. 16 artistes showed their work on each Saturday and Sunday evening in September 2019. The performances encompass a variety of dance forms - contemporary, folk and classical - to give the audience a truly holistic experience of Indian dance.
The performances were preceded by panel discussions by senior artists on wide-ranging themes and workshops by the performers, aimed at arts connoisseurs and supporters, aspiring students and lovers of dance in the city and region.
The aim of this festival is to bring all the dancers of the city - students, aspiring professionals and senior artists - under one roof, to organise the dance sector, to showcase the excellence of Indian dance to a large audience, to educate the audience and raise awareness about various dance forms and to build a community for the art. And to give a stage to emerging talent and to seed and nurture the future of our arts ecosystem.
Feb 2019 - Sep 2019, Shoonya - Centre for Art & Somatic Practices, Bangalore
Koi Sunta Hai
"Koi Sunta Hai", curated and produced by me with support from Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, wishes to share the love of poetry from the Nirgun, Bhakti and Sufi traditions, which contain within them the message of brotherhood, with the audience from all walks of life.
A one day music festival, the first edition of Koi Sunta Hai was held on February 23, 2019 at Nrityagram. The voices of these poets will urge us to listen to our inner voice, discard false pride, greed and hatred and embrace all people joyfully, irrespective of divisions by caste and creed. In a city marked by great contrasts of faith, geography, wealth and power, there is an urgent need to reconnect with the secular democratic ideas embodied in this poetry that has long been part of the country's rich cultural traditions. The festival draws on a rich and diverse treasure trove of performers from the Nirgun, Bhakti and Sufi traditions from across the country to promote the values of love and equality.
Oct 2018 - Feb 2019 , Nrityagram, Bangalore
A specially curated evening for the launch of The Secret Grove in Bangalore, Experience Karnataka brought the flavours of the state through food, exhibition and sale of handlooms and dance. The evening included performances by Lambani artists from North Karnataka, Yakshgana from Yaksh Kala Academy and Dollu Kunitha from Charaka.
The Secret Grove at Jinvara
Mar 2019 - Jun 2019, Bangalore
Freelanced as a project manager with Mayuri Upadhya on following projects:
- Mughal-e-Azam Musical, live musical play directed by Feroz Abbas Khan, 2017-2019
- TED Talks India, 2018
- Opening ceremony of Pro Kabbadi League 2017
- “Mirzya”, a Bollywood movie directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, 2016
In 2016, I also designed the curriculum for "Production Management" for Sublime's Teaching for Artistic Innovation (TFAI) - a programme whose mission is to improve and transform children's life skills by incorporating teaching methods inspired and influenced by the arts (dance, music, theatre, and visual arts) as part of their curriculum, with Mayuri Upadhya leading the dance vertical.
Jul 2016 - Jun 2019, Mandawa/Mumbai
The Dark Lord
Production manager for Raadha Kalpa's "The Dark Lord" which premiered on July 14, 2017 at Guru Nanak Bhavan, Bangalore.
"The Dark Lord", is a dance theater experience that takes the audience on a journey through the imagery of the many seekers of Lord 'Krishna'. Following the life and voice of Meera, the 'Poet of Love', the story attempts to parallel the struggles, madness, lamentation and finally devotion of these seekers. The performance is unique in that it is an experience that breaks the barrier of space between the performer and the audience.
Nov 2016 - Jul 2017, Bangalore
Worked as production manager for Serendipity Arts Festival's first edition "Satrangi" in 2016.
Satrangi was an experimental dance project that brought together six artists - Alesandra Seutin, Billy Chang, Subhash Viman Gorania, Rukmini Vijaykumar, Eugene Skeef and Praveen D Rao - from around the world - representatives of different techniques and styles - to explore different vocabularies in a unique collaboration. This production was conceived by Tanusree Shankar for Serendipity Arts Festival, 2016 to promote exchange and appreciation between cultures while breaking down the invisible barriers between different styles.
Serendipity Arts Festival
Jul 2016 - Dec 2016, Bangalore/Goa
Inspired by a photo of a chair installation and a conversation about the act of "sitting" to watch a LIVE show, the idea for an installation based performance titled "Comfort Zone" was born. Through the piece, the performance artist Archana Kumar, hopes to blur the line that defines "the performer" and the "viewer/listener". The piece aims to allow the audience to ask some basic questions, such as "Are you in your comfort zone? Why are you in this specific comfort zone? When you step out of it, either voluntarily or forced, what happens? What happens when you are pushed out of this almost sacred zone without your knowledge?"
Performers: Nitant Nair, Masoom Parmar, Niranjan Harish
Video Art: Vandana Menon
Original Sound Composition: Kamal Singh and Rahul Giri
Oct 2016, Shoonya - Centre for Art & Somatic Practices, Bangalore
Nritarutya Dance Company
Began my career as an arts manager in 2012 at Nritarutya Dance Company, Bangalore. Over the course of 3.5 years, I held various roles as Arts Administrator, Production Manager, Marketing Manager and Artist Manager.
Major projects with Nritarutya include:
- Make in India opening ceremony at Hanover Messe, Germany (2015) and Mumbai (2016)
- Pacific Asia Travel Association, 2016
- 53rd Bangalore Ganesh Utsav, 2015
- Raghu Dixit Project x Nritarutya Collaboration - The Great Indian Oct Fest, NH7- Bangalore, Pune, Delhi, 2014 - 2015
- “Madhur Milan” a musical, for the 80th birthday celebrations of Smt. Kokilaben Ambani, 2014
- Indian Musical- Shakuntala, featuring Hindi actor Rani Mukherjee commissioned by the Vedanta Group, 2013
- Dewarists Season 3 Finale, 2013
- Prayog 4, 2013
- Adhyaya, featuring Aakash Odedra in "Rising", 2012
- 70th birthday celebrations of Mr Amitabh Bachchan in the mega-production titled “Madhushala”, 2012
Nritarutya Dance Company
Jul 2012 - Feb 2016, Bangalore
Kabhi Ghazal, Kabhi Thumri
Staged in 2015 for "British Council Diversity Day" at the British Library, Bangalore, Kabhi Ghazal , Kabhi Thumri is a semi-autobiographical work that deals with the pathos of love, loss and longing. The work juxtaposes Awadhi, Urdu and Persian languages and classical Hindustani music with the movement vocabulary of Bharatanatyam.
Music: Begum Akhtar, Girija Devi, Abida Parveen, Ustad Gullo, Rashid Khan, Jagjit Singh
Mar 2015 - Jun 2015, British Council Diversity Day, Bangalore
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Masoom Parmar on the Web