Project Description

Memory Photo Tribute
Astad Deboo | Photographer Unknown

Astad Deboo | Photographer Unknown | Source FB page of Astad Deboo

Astad Deboo, a photo tribute to the dance maestro

Astad Deboo, passed away today (10th Dec 2020), in Mumbai. Considered a pioneer of contemporary dance, Astad fought his way to carve his special niche. The path was not an easy one, especially with the friction between classical and contemporary dance. In his words, “Being a professional classical dancer in India is hard. All of us know that. But being a contemporary dancer based upon one’s classical training is harder. Sometimes one is tempted to feel pessimistic about the future, as I sometimes felt. Made even worse… is the lack of understanding I have sometimes encountered even among my peers… Is it an impossibility to imagine a future in which the two kinds of dance, the traditional with its broad, well-established systems and the contemporary, still in the process of finding its way, could sustain and nurture one another in creating its own expanding, developing universe? I don’t think so, for, through this, the ultimate victor will be dance itself.”

Astad started learning Kathak at the tender age of six from the late Indra Kumar Mohanty and the late Prahlad Das. He did follow the mainstream path of pursuing his degree, commerce that is. While pursuing his degree in Mumbai he happened to see the contemporary dance of the American Murray Louis Dance Company, which left him inspired. Shortly afterward, artist Uttara Asha Coorlawala who was studying dance in New York visited Mumbai and helped him join Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance in New York. Deboo left Bombay in 1969, on board a cargo boat that set sail from Bombay port, and later hitchhiked his way through Europe to eventually reach New York in 1974.

After this, there was no stopping him. He joined the London School of Contemporary Dance and eventually started developing his unique style. His choreographed performances were initially looked upon with skepticism. Today, Deboo is noted for creating a modern dance vocabulary that was uniquely Indian. Holistic in comprehending the Indian and Western dance aesthetics, Deboo imbued modern dance with a narrative form of treatment and blended facial expressions with body movements to tell tales of contemporary India. With a dance career spanning half a century, he had performed in over 70 countries, including solo, group, and collaborative choreography with artistes, at home and abroad. He was also an active supporter of progressive politics.

The artist community from around the world is deeply shocked by Astad’s sudden demise. Tributes have been pouring in. He has been a source of inspiration for many. Astad was also a good friend and mentor, always reachable and welcoming. A photographer mentioned that the last message he had received from Astad a week ago was a note of thank you. “Thank you for Photographing me all these years”, Astad had said in that personal message. In fact, it is our privilege that we get to see these remarkable photographic visuals. Each one of us is indebted to these known and unknown photographers for these living pictures. As we mourn the loss of India’s cultural treasure, PhotoMail brings together select photographs of Astad Deboo. Astad Deboo will live forever, in loving memory.

Astad Deboo © One Frame Story | Source Internet

Astad Deboo © Ritam Banerjee | Source Internet

Astad Deboo | Photography © Neelesh kale | Costume: Jade couture | Source Internet

1. Astad Deboo performing Hamlet Avtaar, The Korean production directed by Hyoungtaek Limb; Photograph © Amit Kumar | 2. Astad Deboo developing a new creation with Artistic Director Hema Rajagopalan of Natya Dance Theatre © Amit Kumar | 3. Astad Debo performing with his group of talented dancers who grew up as street children at Kamani, Delhi; Photography © Vipul Sangoi | 4.
Astad Deboo as part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations of Jade at Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, 2018; Costume Design: Monica and Karishma | Source Internet

Rhythm Divine 2 – the river runs deep, shot in the sunken garden of NCPA | Photography © Amit Kumar | Source Internet

Astad Deboo | Image 1 – photographer unknown | Image 2 © Ritam Banerjee | Source Internet

Astad Deboo © Nilesh Kale | Source Internet

 1. Astad Deboo © Ritam Banerjee | 2. Young Astad Deboo, Photographer Unkown | Source Internet

Astad Deboo | Photographer Unknown | Source Internet

Astad Deboo | Photographer Unknown | Source Internet

Astad Deboo | Photographer Amit Kumar | Source Internet

Astad Deboo | Photographer Unknown | Source Internet

Astad Deboo | Photographer Unknown | Costume: Monica and Karishma | Source Internet

Memory  Photo Tribute 

PhotoMail remembers photographers and their contributions, as well as tunes into the historical perspectives that influence contemporary photographic practice and its aesthetics. This Photo Tribute in memory of dance maestro Astad Deboo (13 July 1947 – 10 December 2020) was published on 10th December 2020. Published images and texts are subject to the copyright of the author and/or PhotoMail.