Nerves is a performance art piece, rooted in the expressions of the voiceless people from Manipur, a state nestled in the Northeast corner of India. Through the medium of our performance, we are trying to explore the lives that have been exhausted by the constant questioning of one’s world, without any answers. In Nerves, we have poured ourselves over with the dissonance that has been perpetuating through various issues of conflict and human rights violations in our homeland. In a land where we internalize our angst against this conflict and limbo of violence, we have been played over, like the ball of a polo game, bound by the puppetry of power struggles by the elites, in course of which, indigenous peoples’ rights have been sold and marketed for profit.
These frustrations are embodied in the piece, whereby, we as performers try to explore a new medium to express our emotions, our guilt, our helplessness and our vulnerability. We have tried to appropriate the silent torture that each of us goes through into our performance. Although, the roots of this piece are grounded in Manipur and the Northeast of India, the struggle is universal; the struggle and the search for peace.
“Nerves” won the Prakriti Excellence in Contemporary Dance Awards – Edition II in 2014 and the choreographer Surjit Nongmeikapam was mentored by the world famous Akram Khan Dance Company. The work-in-progress was showcased in Dance Umbrella, UK, and the team did residencies & showcase in Barcelona and Portugal.
In 2011 I created a solo piece, OneVoice, at the Summer dance residency at Gati, New Delhi. It was an articulate expression about torture and victim relationship within one’s body. There were lots of ideas that I wanted to work with. I finally decided to go for an assembled piece as my next. In 2013, as part of another residency, the Monsoon Residency in Belgium, I performed, for the first time, what was then a work-in-progress version of Nerves. I later performed the piece in Osaka, Japan. Once I was back in Manipur, I learnt about PECDA 2014.
My initial research was on the people of Manipur. Given that Manipur is one of the most culturally diverse states in India and one of the most conflicted zone, my focus was on the numerous issues the people are faced with. Personal experiences varied and left strong physical and mental impacts on Manipur’s people. When creating Nerves, the first thing that came to my mind was Manipur’s youth, her dancers, movers, musicians and non-dancers as my performers. Rather than focusing on dance technique, the idea was to focus on shedding light on the disturbed senses from the inner self. Therefore, the movement in Nerves is raw and strong. All performers are first timers in the contemporary dance field. Nerves has thus been a challenge for me as a choreographer.
Surjit Nongmeikapam (Bonbon) was born in Manipur, India. Bonbon has a B.A. in Choreography and has worked with the Natya Stem Dance Kampni and Natya Maya, Bangalore as a contemporary and traditional dancer. Bonbon is trained in Kathak, Kalaripayattu, Manipuri dance, contemporary dance and Thang-Ta, a form of martial arts. He continues to learn many other movement styles from various gurus/mentors. In 2010, he trained under Kolkata Sanved in their 3-month course Dance and Movement Therapy. He was also a dance therapist at H2H, Human to Humane, Imphal during 2009-2013. He has given awareness and dance workshops to several trauma victims in Manipur.
Bonbon is now exploring an interdisciplinary experimental performance art with the physical and emotional in his pieces. He also works with visual artists and filmmakers as collaborators. Some notable dance films he has worked with include, Black Pot and Movement and UNDERLINE.
Bonbon has been to many international and national level artists’ residencies. He has toured and participated in major dance festivals in Switzerland, France, Singapore, Belgium, Japan, USA, Germany, Spain, Portugal, UK and more. He is the Co-Founder/Managing Director of Nachom Arts of Contemporary Movement, Manipur.
Purnima Yengkokpam is a versatile theatre artist, who graduated from the National School of Drama, New Delhi, having specialized in Acting. She has previously been involved with theatre groups such as Ocean and Khenjonlang. After graduating from NSD in 2013, she has been working as a freelance theatre artist and a collaborator in different aspects such as actor training, costume design and stage management on both national and international platforms.
Some of her solo performances include Voice of the Silence, Unheard Voice, Jaiva and more. She participated and performed in the 8th Asia Pacific Bureau Theatre Schools Festivals and Directors Conference, Singapore (2015) and the Asia Theatre Educations Centre Festival, Beijing (2012). She has worked with eminent theatre personalities such as Dr. Anuradha Kapur, Robin Das, Venu G. Nayyar, H. Kanhailal, Abhilash Pillai, David Zindar, Michael Moritz and mant more. Her other skills comprise of Circus Performances and Clowning, Kallaripayetu, Manipuri Martial Arts (Thang-ta), Manipuri Folk Dance, Voice and Speech, Advanced Make-up, and Prosthetic Make-up.
Senjam Hemjit Meitei (Tombi) has had the pleasure of being part of several national and international level artists residencies focusing on dance and movement. He is a founder of a locally well-known dance crew ARDAC THE SAYON. He has participated in important international dance festivals, touring Thailand, Spain, Portugal and London. He is currently working with Surjit Nongmeikapam Company, under the guidance and supervision of Surjit Nongmeikapam (Bonbon) — with Angom Tombi Meitei.
He specializes in Thang-ta, Manipuri folk dance and music, modern dance, hip-hop and contemporary dance.
Laiphangbam Suraj Roy (Yaima) is a young contemporary dancer, who has been learning and working under the guidance of Surjit Singh Nongmeikapam since 2013. He is also a practitioner of the Manipur folk instrument, Pena, under Guru Mayanglambam Mangansana at Laihui. He has travelled with Surjit Nongmeikapam Company to Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Barcelona, Portugal and London. His interest in exploring the body through movement led him to the platform of contemporary dance.
Sumeet Sagolsem is a dancer who has been pursuing a dance career since 2015. He specializes in hip-hop and is a founding member of locally well-known dance crew ARDAC THE SAYON. He worked as a choreographer at several colleges, institutions and camps. He has choreographed different styles of dance in various events held in Bangalore. Some of his achievements include several prizes won at Manfeete, a college event in Manipur during 2010-2014.
Suresh Kiran Singh Khundrakpam
Light Design – Ryoya Fudetani
Light Assistance – Premananda Nongthombam
Sound Design – R.K. Roseen
Sound Mix – Sunil Loitongbam
Costume – Wangkhei Phee Mantri
Project Manager – Renuka Soraisam
Production and Stage Manager – Suresh Kiran Singh Khundrakpam
Prakriti Foundation, Chennai
Dance Connect (Attakkalari), Bangalore
O Espaco Do Tempo, Montemore
Dance Umbrella, London
The Japan Foundation, New Delhi
Nachom Arts Foundation, Manipur
Our special thanks to Meera Krish, Jayachandra Palazhy, Pia Kramer,Claire Verlet, Emma Gladstone, Elena Carmon, Misako Futsuki, Akram khan Company, Chaoba Thiyam, James Khangenbam, Leika Yumnam, Akee Sorokhaibam, Borun Thokchom, Deepak Ningthouja, Indigenous Perspective, Core Manipur, my friends and family.