The Table with the Dogs

The Table with the Dogs
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The Table with the Dogs

Julien Touati è il primo occidentale ammesso alla scuola indiana più prestigiosa dove viene insegnata l’arte del Kathakali, il teatro-danza delle rappresentazioni popolari. Giorno dopo giorno, dall’alba a notte inoltrata, Julian si immerge completamente in un viaggio ipnotico e sensuale nel cuore delle tradizioni indiane, scoprendo un mondo dove l’ordine gerarchico è immutabile, la religione onnipresente e le donne assenti. Il documentario è un’opportunità unica per assistere al durissimo allenamento corporeo e alla rigida educazione a cui vengono sottoposti i ragazzi chiamati a rappresentare le divinità del pantheon indù, alla scoperta di uno degli ultimi posti al mondo dove questa forma d’arte viene insegnata seguendo la tradizione più pura. (Gender DocuFilm Fest)



trailer: The Table with the Dogs


French choreographer and dancer Julien Touati joins the PSV Nathyasangham School in Kottakal (Kerala) for three years. He is the only white student in a class of young Indian men. Students can join the school at age thirteen and usually become accomplished dancers fourteen years later. Many of the youngsters that enter this type of school dedicate their lives to dance.

Training begins each day at 0:5:00a.m. The pupils begin by executing strenuous eye movements while they sit on woven mats on the cement floor. Then they smear oil on their bodies and cover themselves with a loincloth. One after the other they jump around the room like grasshoppers, doing stretches, arm movements, turning and twisting their bodies in all directions and running on the spot at breakneck speed. As they go through dance steps non-stop for hours sweat pours off their faces and bodies. Intricate mudras (hand gestures) are learnt tell a story on their own as well as a combination of eye and eyebrow movements. Their master joins in to show them what they have missed or still need to control. The teacher simply touches the students’ body to correct his position. The classes go on without much talking. The classes take place in a simple cement building. The rooms contain only the bare necessities. Wooden tables and benches are used to share a drink or meal.

Some learn to play musical instruments. A young boy learns to sings, trying to follow the tone of his teacher. When a mistake is made the he is immediately corrected and made to begin again until it is perfect. Each dancer must be ready to learn, listen and give his best from dawn to sunset. He is required to be obedient and work as long as the instructor feels is necessary.

Kathakali costumes are elaborate and prepared with care by skilled tailors. Each student takes at least an hour to do his make-up before a show. He paints his face, colours his eyes, puts on his jingles and the costume of the character he is going to represent. When the musicians are in place and the dancers are ready the show can begin. (Catherine Nelson-Pollard,

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