Did we ever care to notice how much we use our hands while talking? Every word, phrase or sentence seems to be inadvertently accompanied by some hand gesture. From implying this, that, there to here every time our hands go in motion. It indicates, message conveying speaking was never a monopoly of mouth.”

In a series of cultural events last week, Savitribai Phule (formerly DST) Auditorium had another stage performance: Stories by Hand. Stories by hand is a part of cultural events that are being held in different parts of the country on the occasion of The Park New Festival. This is a festival of performing arts .The event is curated by Prakriti foundation. The act was a part of “The Park New Festival” for which University of Hyderabad was the venue partner.

The event began with the address by the Cultural Coordinator of the University Professor Zaidul Haque who said that in order to create a cultural image of the University apart from educational one we make it a point to regularly conduct cultural events on the campus.

Stories by Hand enacted by Preeti Vasudevan, a choreographer and a performer was a mix of theatre –dance performance. It is a solo work on identity told through personal stories and narrated through the continuous placement and displacement of gestures affected by memory. Stories by Hand takes the hand gestures of Bharatanatyam (classical Indian dance) as the basis for a storytelling dance-theater interweaving east and west, past and present, the mythic and the everyday. In stories by hand Preeti uses the style of classical dance form, its mudras like pataka, ardh pataka, mushti to narrate stories. The show was experienced through three clustered themes: Relationships, The Dancing Body and Death.

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While narrating stories of her life, her grandmother, grandfather she also brought in “How much land does a man needs” a short story by Leo Tolstoy. Bringing in snippets from her life she mentions the song “Soja rajkumari soja”from the movie 1964 film Zindagi.

Prakriti Foundation was founded by Ranvir Shah in Chennai in 1998 to host events enquiring into our cultural heritage and inheritance. The vision behind Prakriti was to host events that would play a catalytic role in changing and enlarging the cultural scene in Chennai. It saw itself as the moving force behind events as diverse as music concerts, seminars and serious scholarly discourse, multi media events, experimental and protest cinema and theatre festivals. In the last few years, Prakriti Foundation has worked to explore identity through history and heritage, art and cultural expression in the city of Chennai. It has been the space where scholars, researchers, artists, critics, poets and filmmakers have been able to present their work to those who engage with it on serious terms. The lecture demonstrations, poetry readings, film screenings and intimate performances continue to dot the Chennai calendar.

-Zeenat Shana, Department of Communication

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