Dance, when you're broken open.
Dance, if you've torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance, when you're perfectly free.
~ Rumi (Poet and Sufi mystic)
Dance is an expression of the heart. Dancing personifies your feelings. Dance is a celebration of your gaiety and a conveyance of your pain, your expression of personal disappointment and despair and sometimes your expression of collective gloom over dismal state of affairs. It is a recollection of the glorious or scarred past and a dream of an idealistic future. Dance has forever been used to exhibit varied emotions but seldom as Patruni Sastry uses it to battle rhythmically for LGBT rights, spinning and swaying to use a medium that appeals to all.
A subject gets hope when it gets a seat at the table
An analyst by profession, Patruni, a trained classical dancer, expresses himself, not in words, not by gestures, but in dance. His first cause-based dance performance was at his college when subjected to ragging himself, his oppression gave way to dance and he demonstrated the ill effects of ragging not only on the individual but the social consciousness of society.
His next campaign was with Alcoholic Anonymous to portray the struggles of alcoholics and their families and how it eats into the heart of a culture and generations. Dancing to propagate as best as he could, Patruni has used his expressionism to teach about 'good touch and bad touch' and 'the necessity of consent' and recently he also performed a "classical Butoh", an expressionist dance on the awareness of schizophrenia.
'It was tough initially, because they asked you all sorts of questions that you were not prepared for. Sometimes they were embarrassing.' But that only indicated that the medium was working, it got people thinking, reflecting and enquiring more on subjects they knew or were oriented less towards, explains Patruni. His audience has grown beyond the LGBTQ+ community.
Unboxing the gender
His performances in advocacy of LGBT rights have got him more and more involved as he learns about the entire spectrum of genders. Slowly but surely he has seen not just his audience but his dance form evolve to appreciate the panoramic range of gender, gender bias and the lack of awareness amongst this community itself. Through his art he is exploring and humanizing on the complete vocabulary of different sexualities that have been documented but less known and lesser talked about.
Patruni draws his expression and inspiration from Greek, Indian and Sufi mythology and develops a dance form of his own. He is a non-conformist having often been rejected by classical or contemporary communities. He is not the one to be bound by conventions though and increasingly draws subjects from the cultural context which might still be a taboo.
Dance, to Patruni, is utmost freedom, and his continuous research affords him the liberation that he hopes he can bring to the causes he adopts. As he deals with continuous threats to his expression he swirls ahead to educate and create the necessary empathy for human rights.