About the event

Based on Bhagat Singh’s prison diaries, Navtej Johar’s ‘Tanashah’ goes beyond the ‘sentimentalised perceptions’ of Singh and focuses on his own connect with the revolutionary.

About the artist: Navtej Singh Johar is a dancer-choreographer, scholar, yoga exponent, and a social activist. A recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award for Contemporary Choreography (2014), his work—within all fields of his varied interests—remains consistently body-centric. It twines practice with critical theory and social action, traverses freely between the traditional and the contemporary, and rigorously engages both the philosophical and the sociological discourses of the body. His choreography draws on plural vocabularies: bharatanatyam, yoga, physical-theatre and somatics, and has won critical acclaim both nationally and internationally. Based upon decades of practice, teaching and performing, Johar has devised two pedagogical methods of embodied practice: The BARPS Method, that is designed to practice asana more effectively, and Abhyas Somatics that aims to evoke experiences of rasa and sukha that are integral to Indian poetics and Yoga respectively. He is the founder-director of Studio Abhyas, New Delhi, and faculty at the Performing Arts Department, Ashoka University, Sonipat.

About the performance: Based on the jail diaries of Bhagat Singh, particularly his essay titled, “Why I am an Atheist”, it examines the resolve of a young man to walk to the gallows with searing clarity, un-sublimated by religious doctrine or idealist philosophy. The work attempts to imagine the impending moment of his youthful death that almost seems to embolden him, propel him unto that final moment with fierce veracity. His blazing courage aside, it also draws upon the young revolutionary’s love for poetry and song. Juxtaposed against this intense narrative of Bhagat Singh, is Johar’s personal journey of being a Sikh Bharatanatyam dancer, and more importantly his affinity with the padam, an amorous song that addresses the ambiguity and impossibility of love.

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Date: 15th August 2023
Time: 7:30 p.m – 8:30 pm
Venue: The Ice Factory
Entry: Free & Open to all

In collaboration with


The Ice Factory at Ballard Estate (IFBE) is an experimental laboratory for transdisciplinary practices across modern and contemporary architecture, art, and pedagogy. The conserved and refashioned structure is itself a historical object; its complexity, diversity, and paradoxical forms of architecture are instruments for the invention of knowledge. Malik Architecture has created an architecture that does not settle, one with spaces to breathe through a crystallization and mutation of traditional, modern, and contemporary experiments. A century-old embodiment... of “the dreams that stuff is made of.” IFBE’s community of architects, artists, scholars, and students exists in the expanding complexity and multiplicity of the present without sacrificing a fidelity to pasts and archiving, to build and chronicle in the here and now, what Reinhard Koselleck felicitously called “futures past.”