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Atrip to explore the many cultural nuances of India is rarely on atraveller's cards, but is worth atake

HAVE you ever thought of travelling to West Bengal not to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Kangchenjunga, but to explore the lives of the Chhau dancers in the interiors of Purulia district? Or visit Assam not for its wildlife reserves or rich tea, but for the lustrous and long- lasting hand- spun silk produced by the state? Every time we pack our bags to explore our vast subcontinent, it is the geographical diversity, the beautiful flora and fauna, or the archeological wonders and tempting cuisines that get us going. Kick- starting a slightly different trend, San Francisco- born photographer Briana Blasko travels the length and breadth of the country to explore and document its changing cultural nuances.

A dance and performance photographer by profession, it is yoga which first brought Blasko to India in 2003. She was back soon, in 2008, to research about the various Indian classical dance forms and the colourful costumes worn by the dancers.

" As a freelance photographer with The New York Times , I was familiar with all contemporary dance forms across the world. It was a project with an Indian contemporary and bharatnatyam dancer that aroused my interest in Indian dances," says the 35- year old American. An eye- catching part of Indian dances is the colourful and unique costumes worn by the dancers, says Blasko.

" These colourful costumes vary in colour, texture and material from one region of the country to another, from one dance form to another. The costumes have a story to tell", she believes.

Through her collection of photographs taken over three years, Briana explores the intricate relation between dances and the costumes.

A student of the Tisch School of Arts, New York University, she dates her fascination for textiles back to her college days. The exhibition includes photographs taken as a part of Blasko's research for an eponymous book explaining the interplay between dance and textiles. " I travelled across the length and breadth of the country, visiting dance academies and weaving villages, learning about how the costumes complement the different aspects of the dances," she says.

Blasko's trip started from the Kuchipudi village in Andhra Pradesh, documenting the origins of the Kuchipudi dance. In Hyderabad, she met the octogenarian dancer Govinda Rajulu Garu and learnt of the story behind the Mangalagiri textile draped by the dancers.

She also travelled to the Kalashetra Foundation in Chennai, taking pictures of the graceful Bharatnatyam dancers and visiting the adjacent weaving centre.

An intrinsic part of Indian classical dances, the colourful costumes also have a story to tell

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Dec 30, 2012
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