Reconnecting with the elements through BHU!

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In the collective imagination, martial arts are often linked to cultures of Eastern Asia. This is somewhat fallacious as different parts of the world have their own traditions of combat practices. The contemporary dance cum theatre performance Bhu takes inspiration from one such martial art – Kerala’s own Kalaripayattu – to eulogise Nature. The unique act provided food for thought for audiences in Trivandrum (May 4), Madras (May 6), Mumbai (May 8), Ahmedabad (May 11), Delhi (May 13), and Kolkata (May 15) thanks to a series of performances piloted by Alliance Française de Pondicherry.

Bhu - 01

Kalaripayattu is one of the oldest martial arts in the world and is dedicated to the five fundamental elements (earth, air, fire, water, and ether). India has a deep-rooted and long-standing tradition of connecting with these elements or bhuthas. It is hypothetised that by connecting with the bhuthas, one can reconnect with the cradle of consciousness which is the ultimate source of all matter. For the creation of Bhu, the artistic form of Kalaripayattu i.e. Lasya Tatva was explored. The show was the result of a creative collaboration between Ritam (a unit of Auroville), the Auroville-based martial arts school Kalarigram and the Réunion Island based theatre group Porteurs d’eau.


Philippe Pelen Baldini, the play’s artistic director and choreographer, explains that the show attempted to create a dialogue between the Earth as an element and the bodies of the performers. This was achieved by depicting the journey of a raging man who eventually discovers his deep union with the Earth through the guidance of a kalari gurukkal. Thierry Moucazambo, the assistant director of the show, played the role of this friend-philosopher-guide on stage. Philippe and Thierry were guided by the Kalaripayattu master Shri Guru Lakshman Gurukkal during the process of the creation of the show.


The performance itself featured a central cast of six performers – all of whom were Kalaripayattu exponents. Five of these were also trained dancers. The show also featured an interplay of live music provided by traditional South Indian instruments and a recorded soundtrack of “earth sounds” by NASA. This unique combination of theatre, dance, and music coupled with the dynamism of Kalaripayattu aimed to connect on a psychological level with the audience. By dancing with the elements and through the guidance of the Kalaripayattu master, the hero not only learned how to become a great fighter but also how to fight his own demons, his fears, and ultimately his ego.

A brief glimpse of the performance can be found here :

Siddharth Bhatt

Rédaction, AF Magazine Inde-Népal

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Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...