SPACES is a Registered Trust, set up in 2000 as an Arts Foundation, by late dancer/choreographer Chandralekha, the late artist/designer Dashrath Patel and writer and photographer Sadanand Menon.
SPACES was born of a vision Chandralekha had for creating alternate artistic and human spaces in the city. Initially a barren stretch of sandy soil, much effort has been invested in greening the place and making it hospitable for birds and insects on the one hand and the arts on the other. Chandra wrote:
“I want this space to be put on the map of the world as –
Sun and Moon Space
Sea and Sky Space
“I am envisioning this space for artists, performers, dancers, singers. I am envisioning them in scale – in human scale against the elemental scale of the sea and the sky”.
The Foundation is keen to stay close to this dream of Chandra’s.
One of the primary initiators of what is today categorized as ‘contemporary Indian dance’, Chandralekha (1928-2006) learnt Bharatanatyam with Kancheepuram Ellappa Pillai and after a flourishing career as a soloist in the decade of the fifties withdrew from performance for over two decades. When she returned on stage in 1985 with her new choreography Angika, it was to change the face of Indian contemporary dance forever. Her ten full-length productions in the subsequent two decades integrating elements from diverse Indian physical traditions including Kalarippayattu and Yoga and exploring a provocatively abstract content gave new identity to dance from India and were presented at some of the most prestigious venues in India and abroad. Her work remains the yardstick by which Indian contemporary dance is evaluated. She received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, the Kalidas Samman and the Legends of India award.
A versatile artist and among one of India’s ‘Modern Masters’, Dashrath Patel (1927-2010) was a graduate of the Madras College of Art, where he was a student of Devi Prasad Roy-Choudhury and, after many years in European art schools specializing in ceramics, photography and engraving, was drafted as the founder-director of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, in 1961. After twenty prolific years at the NID, where he was at the helm of every major national design initiative, he resigned and re-settled in Chennai and went on to set up a Rural Design School in Sewapuri, near Varanasi. He was also the designer of the Inaugural events of the Festivals of India in France and the USSR. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan posthumously in January 2011.
The two performance spaces in an architecturally indigenous idiom that they jointly created with Sadanand Menon at the Elliot’s Beach in Besant Nagar, Chennai, have today become flourishing venues for experimental work in theatre and dance and are used by a wide variety of artists and students. It also houses a popular kalarippayattu class. Managing Trustee Sadanand Menon is also involved in setting up a publicly accessible archive of both these late artists whose work was critical in the Indian arts context.
1, Elliots Beach Road
T: (044) 42158062