Asian Music and Dance

Queen Size

“W hat I do in my bedroom has to be your business, my sophisticated friends. For you have made my sexuality a public matter before I was born.”

Nishit Saran 

This quote from Saran’s article ‘Why My Bedroom Habits Are Your Business’ is the trigger for the creation of this insightful, thought-provoking, gutsy and confrontational contemporary dance choreography by Mandeep Raikhy in response to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality in India. 

The performance is set in a black box, with minimal lighting of just forty-nine tiny bulbs hung on a bamboo rig from the ceiling in the centre of the space. Below each bulb was a huge wine glass that was hung with wire, filled to the quarter with water. This was supposed to create a ripple effect on a light surface on the floor but unfortunately, as it was a black box with a black dance floor, we didn’t see this effect; however, I can just imagine that it must have been stunning on a white dance floor. The delicate nature of forty-nine wine glasses hanging precariously above the performance area reflects the delicate, intimate and very personal sentiments of the performance.

It was a collection of short, transient performances in a loop where one of the two dancers will open the door after every ten minutes to let audiences in and out, although it says in the programme ‘three 45-minute performances’ – that was a little unclear. I would have entered during the last ten minutes of the second set of ‘the 45-minute performances’ and rolled into the third set. I was told by the usher that some of audience had stayed on from the very beginning, however. I totally understand, since it is a compelling and engaging performance where every ten-minute loop is different from the others. 

In each short loop the two dancers lift and shift the position of the charpoy, which is a wooden-framed rope woven bed, which for me reflects the simplicity of life without the comfort of a comfy mattress ‒ a normal living situation in India, and perhaps the heat plays a role as well – creating new set designs each time. The charpoy was a rustic touch and beautifully manipulated by the dancers who used it in every way possible: to bounce off, to lie on spooning each other, to create distance, and of course hard-core sexual intensity which got the whole room vibrating; we were meant to think that when the technicians were tugging at the bamboo rig that held the precariously-hung wine glasses in rhythm to the intense gyrating movements on stage. It was a shame that they didn’t tug the rig hard enough for the water to spill on the floor which I think would have been more dramatic! 

The close proximity of the audience and performance area gave the performance such depth that it was like actually being within the private space of the two individuals who are totally involved with each other in mind, spirit and body. At moments the dancers had unfazed physical contact with the audience, which was just brilliant and shows the absolute involvement in the piece.

The most interesting part for me was how Raikhy managed to create dance movements from the act of sexual intercourse and other sexual positions from the Kama Sutra, translating the ordinary to an intense dance vocabulary. Kudos to Raikhy for being able to extract the essence of sexual activities and presenting it in a beautiful, non-pornographic dance movement with such intimacy. 

The chemistry between the two male dancers is impeccable. There were moments when they sensed each other from across the dance floor without having to see the other, which to me were the magical moments of this piece.

After the performance, hearing an audience member say “I don’t feel like just having sex any more, I want to fall in love”, to me describes the pure intention of this piece; homosexuality is based on love and the penal code criminalises human beings for being in love! 



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