REVIEW: Ronita Mookerji’s Who?

Dancer and writer Dayita Nereyeth reflects on this Bangalore choreographer and dancer’s latest work-in-progress solo

At Platform 17, Ronita Mookerji—one of Bangalore’s most dynamic dancers—presented her work in progress solo Who?, which explores the self when it is confined inside a box. She sidesteps the cliché of thinking outside the box, and instead withdraws into her mind-body, enclosed in a small, wooden cube. In the post-performance discussion of her work, Ronita spoke of an “extreme freedom” and the sense of empowerment she associates with being in a box. Her choice of prop results in her compact, sinewy physique being magnified and the viewer’s eye focusing on the ‘television’ she creates on stage.

Ronita Mookerji’s Who? at Platform 17 Hari Adivarekar
Ronita Mookerji’s Who? at Platform 17 Hari Adivarekar

Ronita’s ability to hold our attention in the audience with other-worldly, creature-like movements is unquestionable; her form seems to know no human limitations. Several times, she confronts us in the audience with agitated gestures and extreme contortions that are almost grotesque. (Picture Ronita scurrying across stage on her sit bones with her feet comfortably nestled behind her head.)

It’s remarkable that despite the very strict physical boundaries of the box, Ronita’s use of her body and the movements she makes come across as unhindered. The physical aspect of this solo work seems to be thoroughly investigated but its emotional content remains lacking. The emotional graph of the piece spikes between angst and an almost manic exuberance. At the discussion, Ronita told us that the box posed no emotional constraints but she didn’t address any nuanced sentiments between her two extreme choices either. Swinging between those two psychological states is quite exhausting to watch—it makes us crave something in between, a lighter touch. The concentrated nature of the visual she creates on stage further tends to intensify powerful moments, so any exploration of a subtler emotional range would make the work more convincing and complete. 

Ronita’s training in Bharatanatyam, she explained, was part of the reason she frequently gestures with her hands in everyday life and even while speaking. After hearing her speak, it was clear that she had built the vocabulary of this work on movements that are natural to her. But the emotional scope of the work doesn’t do justice to her vibrant off-stage personality. It was curious to note that her fairly informal verbal introduction to the work—seated atop her box with only a lantern for company—was the most emotionally compelling part of the performance. If this section wasn’t part of the performance, perhaps it should be incorporated into the work. When Ronita eventually morphs this sketch into a finished piece, I hope she explores emotional possibilities in the same way she approaches the limitless movement potential of her body.

Dayita Nereyeth is a dancer and writer currently based in Bangalore. She enjoys performing, conducting research on the mind and movement, doodling, and watching cooking competitions.

TABLE of Contents
The Biennial Issue: Part 2

As the Attakkalari India Biennial 2017 comes to a close, participants in the Writing on Dance Laboratory show us the festival in their words and images.

Zawirowania Dance Theatre’s Closeness
Swar Thounaojam

Playwright, theatre director, and performer Swar Thounaojam finds the Polish dance company’s trio work just bold and beautiful

The Time, The Times: A Dual Perspective
Dayita Nereyeth and Ian Abbott

Dayita Nereyeth and Ian Abbott take a collaborative stab at Time Takes The Times Time Takes choreographed by Guy Nader | Maria Campos to offer a fuller perspective on the work

Vacant Chairs Weigh Heavy With The Memories Of Everyone Who Has Sat On Them
Parvathi Ramanathan

Dancer and writer Parvathi Ramanathan reads through Fabien Prioville’s La Suite

Show Us Some Moves: Small and Silly Dances
Dayita Nereyeth

Dancer and writer Dayita Nereyeth gets the festival team dancing

do you believe what you hear? do you hear what you believe?
Ian Abbott

Dance writer and producer Ian Abbott chronicles the origin and execution of an interview with ‘silence designer’ Marcel Zaes

Review: Ronita Mookerji's Who?
Dayita Nereyeth

Dancer and writer Dayita Nereyeth reflects on this Bangalore choreographer and dancer’s latest work-in-progress solo

What Do We See And Feel While Watching Dance?
Himalaya Gohel

Dance researcher and PhD student Himalaya Gohel examines two works at the Biennial to talk of the audience’s role in the reception of each of them

When Does A Dance Piece End?
Sheetala Bhat

Actor and writer Sheetala Bhat analyses the relationship between performer, audience, and time through Mandeep Raikhy’s Queen-size

ShowReel : Bhinna Vinyasa
Darshan Manakkal

Bangalore’s Attakkalari Repertory Company presented Bhinna Vinyasa, choreographed by Jayachandran Palazhy, on Day 4 of the Attakkalari India Biennial 2017

ShowReel : Time Takes The Time Time Takes
Darshan Manakkal

Spanish choreographers MC Guy Nader and Maria Campos presented Time Takes The Time Time Takes on Day 5 of the Attakkalari India Biennial 2017

ShowReel : Liquido
Darshan Manakkal

Italian choreographer-dancer Luisa Cortesi and music artist Gianluca Petrella presented Liquido on Day 6 of the Attakkalari India Biennial 2017

ShowReel : Closeness
Darshan Manakkal

Poland’s Zawirowania Dance Theatre presented Closeness, choreographed by Tomas Nepsinsky, on Day 6 of the Attakkalari India Biennial 2017

ShowReel : La Suite
Darshan Manakkal

German choreographer Fabien Prioville presented La Suite on Day 7 of the Attakkalari India Biennial 2017


To pick up and run with a magazine that has had another life is never easy. There are those conflicting desires to find close continuity and to just scrap it all and start anew. Ligament 2016-17 reemerges from a half-way point. We want to build on the investigations and insights of the magazine’s past contributors and also find ways to say what they perhaps had wanted to say but could not, or forgot to, in that moment.

Ligament was founded to facilitate the articulation of an evolving language that encompasses the impulses of contemporary dance. The idea of “contemporary” is inherently bound to time, to a sense of history, rather multiple histories unfolding. In its 2016-17 iteration, we hope that Ligament can grapple with the idea of how dance might hold a place in-step with the patterns of active and forming histories, rather than remaining a canonised and pondered response to a bygone world. We’d like to embrace the immediacy of “contemporary”, and invite contributions from dancers, choreographers, arts practitioners, scholars, audience members, readers. In this way, we hope to reach for the intimacies, resistances, and fragilities that permeate the developing field of South Asian contemporary dance.

Articulating a medium as visceral, visual, and ephemeral as dance requires making connections to methods of thought and critique that lie outside evaluative language. So for Ligament 2016-17 we welcome, of course, the critical essay, but also audio, photographs, ekphrastic poems, interviews, and hybrid media of various kinds that might speak to us about dance, carefully and proximately. Like the anatomical connective tissue for which it is named, Ligament, we hope, can help us locate dance in tandem with the many bodies that produce and encapsulate it.

To those who find themselves here for the first time, welcome. And those whom we have met before, we are glad you are back.

—Poorna Swami, Editor

Get in touch with us at ligament@attakkalari.org