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Butoh Natyam

Patruni Chidananda Sastry's Butonatyam: Bridging Cultures and Challenging Norms

In the realm of dance, the fusion of diverse cultural traditions can yield astonishing results, blending disparate styles and ideologies into a harmonious whole. Such is the case with Patruni Chidananda Sastry's innovative approach to dance, where he merges the ancient Indian classical form of Bharatanatyam with the avant-garde Japanese art form known as Butoh. This unique fusion, aptly named Butonatyam, transcends traditional boundaries and challenges societal norms, offering audiences a fresh perspective on movement and expression.

At first glance, Bharatanatyam and Butoh may seem worlds apart. Bharatanatyam is characterized by its rigid postures, intricate hand gestures (mudras), and vibrant storytelling, while Butoh, born out of post-World War II Japan, is a radical departure from traditional dance forms, embracing grotesque movements and addressing taboo subjects with unabashed honesty. However, it is precisely this contrast that drew Patruni to explore the possibilities of merging the two seemingly disparate art forms.

Patruni's journey into Butonatyam is deeply rooted in his personal experiences and struggles. As a male classical dancer growing up in Kolkata, he faced relentless bullying and scrutiny for his choice of art. In a society where gender roles are strictly defined, Patruni's passion for Bharatanatyam raised eyebrows and prompted questions about his sexuality. Seeking to challenge these stereotypes and push the boundaries of his artistry, Patruni delved into the world of Butoh, drawn to its ethos of rebellion and non-conformity.

In Butonatyam, Patruni seamlessly integrates the classical movements and expressions of Bharatanatyam with the raw, emotive style of Butoh. Through his performances, he tackles taboo topics such as sexuality, gender identity, and societal expectations, using his art as a platform for advocacy and social change. With each performance, Patruni invites audiences to question their preconceived notions and embrace the complexity of human experience.

One of Patruni's most notable performances, "Pai," explores the stories of pansexuals, intersexuals, and asexuals, drawing inspiration from diverse cultural sources such as Sufi musician Amir Khusro and Greek mythology. In "Nagavalli," he confronts the rigid gender lines imposed by society, highlighting the struggles of individuals who do not conform to traditional gender norms.

In addition to his solo performances, Patruni collaborates with fellow Butoh practitioner Adam Koan, presenting innovative pieces such as "Navrasas of Butoh." Together, they explore the myriad emotions and states of being expressed through Butoh, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression and challenging audiences to confront their own perceptions of beauty, gender, and identity.

As Patruni continues to hone his craft and expand his artistic horizons, he remains committed to his mission of bridging cultures and challenging norms through the transformative power of dance. With each performance, he invites audiences to join him on a journey of self-discovery and exploration, inspiring others to embrace authenticity and celebrate the diversity of human expression.

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