Dondi Belakina Yakshagana Documentation

In the rush of modernity, folk art forms are not left behind. The technological innovations are praying into the aesthetics of folk art forms in such a speed that the pros and cons of it are ignored rather than discussed. Yakshagana which was traditionally relished in the dim light under the dark night was exposed to bright electric lights and made nude. The nuances of costumes, face painting were lost and became mere reminisces of past glory. In this bargain, the effect and impact of the art form got limited.

With this in the background, a unique experiment was done to re-create the traditional Yakshagana performances with the help of traditional oil lamps. Two teams specially researched separately in Tenku and Badagu styles of Yakshagana and started rehearsing the traditional face painting techniques, costume nuances and dancing styles and stage movements that had to be adapted for the limitation or the challenge posed by the light and stage restriction. The voice modulations and dialogue delivery too had to be modified keeping the absence of microphone in mind.

We decided to document this unique experiment. Document such performance posed its own challenges as technically video cameras were not equipped to work in such low light conditions and recording sound became a challenge too. At the same time, documenting the stage was re-thought too in terms of giving a real auditorium like feel to the documentation. From a three month preparation from the artists and technical team, came up this documentation of three hour each for Tenku style and Badagu style of Yakshagana in Dondi (torch) light.