Contemporary Indian dancer Astad Deboo, renowned for marrying Kathak and Kathakali into a unique form, says there was a time when most Indians saw his style as "too western" while westerners found that it was "not Indian enough".
The dancer says his innovative style of Indian dance may have raised some eyebrows in the 1970s and 80s, but the 1990s saw people embrace this new idiom.
Deboo will be honoured with the lifetime achievement award from the Chennai-based Krishna Gana Sabha on July 1.
The dancer, who studied Kathak with Guru Prahlad Das from a young age, and later Kathakali with Guru EK Pannicker, describes his style as "contemporary in vocabulary and traditional in restraint".
With a dance career spanning over 48 years, he has performed in over 72 countries, including solo, group and collaborative choreography with artistes, both at home and abroad.
Deboo describes his evolution as going "from energetic or entertaining to minimalist and introspective, from the narrative to the abstract". He says his signature style is characterised by intense focus, concentration and technical virtuosity along with a distinctively Indian aesthetic of evoking rasa (emotion).
Deboo is back in India after an extended tour of Europe and Scandinavia where he collaborated with leading dancers and musicians at various performances spread over last few months.
Known for his charitable endeavours, Deboo has worked with deaf children, both in India and abroad for close to two decades. In 2002, he founded the Astad Deboo Dance Foundation which has mentored over 100 students, providing creative training to marginalised sections, including the differently-abled. He has also worked closely with the Salaam Balak Trust and Manipur-based artistes-- the Pungcholom drummers of Shree Shree Govindajee Nat Sankirtan and the martial art Thangta practitioners.
Deboo has forayed into other art disciplines, like films, choreographing for Indian directors such as Mani Ratnam, Vishal Bhardwaj and legendary painter MF Hussain's "Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities". -- PTI