Sound of Silence  
- Padma Jayaraj, Thrissur 

November 4, 2008 
The Sound of Silence, a 70-minute contemporary dance, by Samudra Performing Arts, under the aegis of Public Relations, Government of Kerala, in the Fine Arts Hall, Kochi recently, was a stunning show. Samudra, founded by Madhu Gopinath and Vakkom Sajeev, is in the limelight now. It bagged three awards for dance choreography for the Malayalam film Rathrimazha (Night Rain). Kerala is proud of the Film Critics Award and National Award, besides the State Award for this troupe. The troupe has already won recognition both at national and international level. They received the prestigious, 'The Best Hit Production Award' in Sopleto Festival (Italy) in 2000.  Their brand of physical theatre is Indian in body, spirit and soul.  
Sound of Silence is an innovative and original dialogue between movement and sound, body and soul, and tradition and modernity. The stage is bare with a dark backdrop. The theme is life chakra, the wheel of life: birth, growth, procreation and death. Around this concept are woven myths and ideas that are Indian, presented in forms and shapes we see around, both in nature and in our arts.  
The dance is divided into various segments, even when they flow non-stop. The show starts in an arresting manner. Amidst vapour and clouds, amidst the chanting of aum, a scintillating group performance infuses a sense of the primordial. Then the dancers move in tune with the Gayatri mantra. Soon lights change to focus on a human form in padmasana descending down a rope. It revolves around it in myriad poses, and head down reaches the ground. Streaks of red shading the form, burn in the dark. Yes, Creation and birth of man.  
Living creatures of the land move around…the Dance of Life. From among them, emerge a pair that showcases a display of super-abundant energy typifying childhood and growth. 

Lights fade to show a female dancer on stage. Her costume, deep ochre in colour, implies purity even when her movements are sensual. The costume as well as her language has classical dimension. She can be Earth, Nature, an archetype like Sakuntala...lovelorn. 
The following segment is a couple dancing, evocative of mating dance in the animal kingdom. It is a striking rendering of rhythm in nature, brimming with life-energy without erotica. 
A solo item of capturing a bird and its movements is an unforgettable piece. Memories from the animal kingdom flash to enrich the aesthetic experience. You understand the joy of life in its quintessence. How all the living creatures pay their tribute!! The bird emerges as a symbol.  
The finale is a dramatic performance that brings the beginning to a perfect circle. The Trance shows the human aspirant breaking all earthly chains, finally attaining enlightenment. Here the tribal is juxtaposed to the Vedic. The costume is that of the Oracle in the shrine of the Mother Goddess.  The Oracle entering into a trance is a ritual performance still in practice in the Devi temples of Kerala. The dance of the Oracle is tribal in nature. And its magical realism is still captivating.  
Death is not the end. Garuda comes to take the liberated soul to the land of Vishnu. This truly is Indian contemporary dance. Partaking the visual and auditory fiesta, is a unique aesthetic experience. But for some slackening in synchronisation at times, the whole show was spellbinding. 
Samudra has choreographed three major productions, The Sound of Silence, Jalam (Water), and Rhythm. Their productions showcase a unique dance idiom rooted in Indian performing art forms with a spiritual connotation. Kalaripayattu, the Kerala martial art and yoga gives a unique flavour to their choreography.