Renowned choreographer Sandip Soparrkar is receiving accolades from all quarters for his recent production of ‘Hyacinth’, a dance-based retelling of a Greek drama that focuses on a same-sex romantic love triangle between a beautiful mortal and the two gods vying for his affections.
The show, which premiered on October 4 at Gujarati Kelvani Mandal, stars Mithun Purandare as the sun god Apollo, Yuvraaj Parashar as the god of the west wind Zephyrus, and Raj Kumar in the titular role of Hyacinth. Soparrkar’s wife, model Jesse Randhawa, stars as the emotion of Love and serves as the narrator of the story. Soparrkar used ballroom and contemporary dance along with elements of Chinese long-sleeve dance to tell a tale of friendship, unrequited love, jealousy, and revenge.
Soparrkar wrote, directed, and choreographed ‘Hyacinth’ in partnership with the NGO Humsafar Trust, India’s oldest LGBT organization. Together they sought to portray same-sex relationships without caricaturing them, which included staging three challenging intimate scenes that were key in portraying the emotional journey the characters take.
Sandip Soparrkar spoke to Urban Asian exclusively about the process of mounting such a revolutionary production.
What was it about the story of Hyacinth that made you want to adapt it for an Indian audience?
When Humsafar Trust spoke to me for a show, they told me a few issues they wanted to highlight. One was to talk of LGBT issues and the other was to inform people that LGBT is not a modern phenomenon, it has been there forever. So nothing better than a mythology story, I thought. I chose this particular story because it had loads of emotions. From friendship to love, romance to hatred, from death to life, it had it all.
what challenges did you face while adapting Hyacinth?
The biggest challenge was to show the intimacy between two men. It was never done in India before. Getting the right artists to perform it was difficult, too. Men in India don’t want to smooch a woman on a public platform. Having them agree to do that with a man was unheard of. But by God’s grace, I was determined with what I wanted, and I got it finally. We made history and I am glad that I was a part of this revolution.
How did you prepare your performers for their roles, and were there any challenges that stemmed from Hyacinth being a same-sex love story?
I was very clear from the start with my artists that there will be intimate scenes live onstage. Even after agreeing, once we got into rehearsal my artists did feel hesitant. So yes, I did my job of talking to them and rehearsing with them a lot so that the intimacy should look classy and not vulgar. And I was overwhelmed with the response we got finally.
What sort of impact do you think this show will have on the LGBT community?
It will have no impact at all on the LGBT community. People from the community are anyways carefree and uninhibited. The show was never made to impact the community, it was made so that the world outside the community looks at the LGBT community in a new light. After the show, we got messages from many people accepting their LGBT children, their friends, and I think that’s the biggest achievement.