A visual extravaganza


Of late, thanks to the efforts of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Guwahatians have got the chance to get acquainted with a number of excellent musicians from different parts of the globe. Besides bringing performers of diverse and hitherto obscure musical traditions to our very own backyard, it has also enlivened the cultural scene in the city to a commendable extent. I still remember listening in awe to the ‘Chorinho’ (lament or little cry in Portugese) musical style when Yamandu Costa and his seven-member guitar ensemble enthralled music lovers of the city and introduced to them the Brazilian forms of music. I would like to thank ICCR for their initiatives and urge them to continue with their noble endeavours.

Continuing with their quest, the ICCR recently presented Spellbound – a repertoire of Odissi dance presented by the Sutra Dance Theatre of Malaysia under the artistic direction of Ramli Ibrahim. If we were to talk about the presentation, Spellbound is a tryst with the timeless beauty of an ancient temple dance that transforms a theatre experience into an emotional bond and spiritual one. It offers a repertoire of Odissi, commissioned from Guru Durga Charan Ranbir of the late Guru Deba Prasad parampara and rearranged into a stunning group composition by Ramli Ibrahim. Consisting of a multi-racial cast symbolic of the universality of the Odissi dance form, Spellbound has delighted audiences wherever it has performed – be it in Malaysia, India or Europe.

The evening began with Mangala Caranan, which is an invocatory homage to the mother goddess and female principle in her form as Saraswati, the goddess of eloquence, wisdom and learning, and also the patron of arts and music. The lovely costumes of the dancers and the beautiful light effect managed to fill the hearts of the audience with awe and expectation of the things to follow. This was followed by Mukhari Pallavi – a pure dance exposition in which the three bends of the head, torso and hip, together with the solid, symmetrical chowka or the square position, create a firm but fluid contrast. Watching the dance, a critic commented: The unhurried quickness with which the dancers created formations and kept changing them was admirable. For the line ‘Yaa Brahma Achyuta Shankara’, they created Brahma loka with Brahma and Saraswathi; Vaikunta with Vishnu on Adisesha, attended by Lakshmi; and Kailash with Siva and Parvathi. The same seven dancers (two male and five female) changed their roles convincingly with their eloquent gestures and facial expressions.

Throughout the entire performance, it was interesting to note that the stage was not empty for even a single moment. One powerful performance followed the other, after brief but relevant introductions. Added with the beautiful costumes and light display, Spellbound was truly a treat for the senses. Though Spellbound is technically a fusion of traditional Odissi dance with contemporary dance forms, for us laymen it was a thing of beauty.

Moving on to the creative director of the presentation, Ramli Ibrahim is a dynamic force in Malaysian theatre and possesses open-mindedness for both the Old and the New. Trained in classical ballet, modern dance and Indian classical dance, Ramli is a creator and a visionary in the arts who sees unity within the diversity of all of Sutra’s artistic endeavors. In Malaysia, Ramli is acclaimed as a pioneer dancer and choreographer of international standing in the major fields of dance that he has mastered – Bharatanatyam, Odissi as well as Contemporary Dance. As a teacher of Bharata Natyam and Odissi, he has groomed some of the finest dancers to have emerged from Malaysia and at the same time placed Indian classical dance in the context of the Malaysian experience. A disciple of Guru Deba Prasad Das, he was at his best in Guwahati that day –a raw personification of energy, grace, force and speed. The Sutra Dance Theatre, on the other hand, is based in Kuala Lampur and was established in 1983 to promote awareness in theatre and the Arts in the both the traditional and the contemporary. It has established a strong and dynamic school of dance by imparting training in traditional, classical and contemporary techniques. Sutra’s multiracial dancers of Malay, Indian, Chinese and mixed races speak well of dance transcending racial and cultural barriers.

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Posted on February 28, 2010, in Concerts/ Reviews, Personalities/ Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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