Freer, hardier, sexier

This photograph shows a scene from NGO Civilian Welfare Foundation’s annual walk in Kolkata to celebrate the cause of the Paralympics. A walker is seen standing with a poster that says “Born to Be Free” and has the sketch of a para-athlete in a running pose drawn in the centre. Birds can be seen flying in the background of the poster, as also a kite soaring in the sky. The text and the graphics are rendered in eye-catching red and black. A few other walkers can be seen next to the walker holding the poster. This year’s walk in South Kolkata on August 28, 2017 attracted nearly 300 participants, including a number of para-athletes who won medals for India in the Paralympics held last year in Rio de Janeiro. Photo credit: Pawan Dhall.

Vartanama, Aug '17
Freer, hardier, sexier! How about that as a motto for achieving a better life for everyone? A motivation where the contest is with our limitations in becoming a more just and inclusive society!

The month gone by was not just when India observed its 70th Independence Day, but also when the Honourable Supreme Court of India delivered a hat-trick of judgments that befitted this milestone. The court upheld the right to privacy as a Fundamental Right, outlawed instant triple talaq and punished a rapist god man.

Looking back, one can’t help but feel a moment of pride that the Varta webzine completed four years in this very month (on August 1). And towards the very end of the month, on August 28, I witnessed two events in Kolkata that underscored the essence of independence that much more.

Pictures can speak for themselves. All that I will share is that the main photograph captures Civilian Welfare Foundation’s annual walk in Kolkata to celebrate the cause of the Paralympics. This year’s walk in South Kolkata attracted nearly 300 participants, including a number of para-athletes who won medals for India in the Paralympics held last year in Rio de Janeiro. Photo credit: Pawan Dhall

The photograph shows a moment from Sapphire Creations Dance Company’s ballet ‘Alien Flowers’, which was staged at Madhusudan Mancha on August 28, 2017. Two male dancers can be seen striking a pose that symbolizes freedom, joy, love and companionship. One dancer partially kneels with his hands aloft like a bird in flight; the other is upright behind him, also with his hands and a flowing red cloth aloft like a bird in flight. They have a joyful expression as they dance to the rhythm of the music. Both are dressed in brilliant blue loose pants along with a transparent golden hued fabric around their waists; both have short cropped hair, and bare torsos embellished with heavy golden jewellry around their necks. The couple stands out as an image of love in contrast with a deep blue lit background on the dance stage. This ballet is a reincarnation of ‘The Alien Flower’, reputed to be India’s first contemporary dance creation to depict same-sex love. Sapphire Creations first performed the ballet way back in 1996 in Kolkata. Photo credit: Samanwoy Photography

The second shot (courtesy Samanwoy Photography) is a moment from Sapphire Creations Dance Company’s ballet Alien Flowers, which was staged at Madhusudan Mancha. This ballet is a reincarnation of The Alien Flower, reputed to be India’s first contemporary dance creation to depict same-sex love. Sapphire Creations first performed the ballet way back in 1996 in Kolkata.

The performance that I saw this year was ever more evocative and representative of the spectrum of genders and sexualities. It was also a heady dose of nostalgia – memories of how the ballet added spark to the early years of queer activism in Kolkata.

Author Photo

Pawan Dhall

Pawan Dhall aspires to be a rainbow journalist and believes in taking a stand, even if it’s on the fence – the view is better from there!

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