May 18, 2009
Under the joint
auspices of Malaysian Embassy, Indian Council for Cultural Relations and
Sallaudin Pasha's Ability Unlimited the show was mounted at Kamani Auditorium
in Delhi on 28 April 2009. I could catch up with the artistes a day before
I left for Bangalore for World Dance Day celebrations.
When in the
garden of love, Kamadeva generated passion, the courtesan/nayika and the
hero/nayaka's longing for each other evoked shringara. Ramli and Anandavalli
represented the nayaka and nayika.
For karuna (compassion) rasa, Anandavalli chose Kabir's Hindi bhajan. The seeking by devotee, the original spirit of compassion to save humanity from being victimized with misinterpretation of the spirit of religions finds a felicitous expression in Kabirís bhajan. Anandavalli presented it as a solo abhinaya number.
was shown with figures dancing, dressed in frills and jumping, creating
fun, whereas bibhatsa (disgust) had a group number which evoked disgust.
Bhaya (fear) was recognizable whereas roudra (anger) had dramatic moments
as seen in confrontation of sworn enemies provoking each other and swearing
threats and vengeance. We often see similar scenes in Kathakali dance dramas.
In the production under review, the aharya, the costumes, and the Balinese/Malay/
Indonesian dance vocabularies evoked the expected rasa. The use of kunnakol
like sollus to generate dramatic impact was imaginative. The finale for
shanta rasa strove to bring fulfillment, wholeness, images of divinity
evoking transcendence over attachment to worldliness.
A special word for Sivarajah Natarajan's light designing. I have used the word 'spectacular' for the production. His lighting indeed evoked the adbhuta rasa, wonderment. He bathed the dancers, with their exotic costumes, headgears, necklaces, flowing robes in brilliant colours. The props, one long branch hanging from the ceiling, and the other drift wood like on the floor, even when it looked strange, created curiosity. The visual impact was very powerful. The use of masks was also imaginative.
Guna, with his thin frame, performs with amazing agility. January Low with her beauty adds glamour and charm as do Sutra's other female dancers. Ramli has an arresting stage presence. Anandavalli displays her command over the idioms of Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi, even after giving up dancing for last five years. But somehow, the pairing of Ramli as nayaka and she as nayika did not gel.
As usual the
program book with detailed introductions, arresting images, interviews
and credits is published with impeccable taste and customary finesse one
has come to associate with Sutra Dance Theatre. Those who have seen Ramli's
other productions would feel that even when there was an unmistakable Sutra
Theatre production signature, the production remained at a spectacular
level at its best.
Dr. Sunil Kothari, dance historian, scholar, author, is a renowned dance critic, having written for The Times of India group of publications for more than 40 years. He is a regular contributor to Dance Magazine, New York. Dr. Kothari is a globetrotter, attending several national, international dance conferences and dance festivals. He has to his credit more than 14 definitive works on Indian classical dance forms. Kothari was a Fulbright Professor and has taught at the Dance Department, New York University; has lectured at several Universities in USA, UK, France, Australia, Indonesia and Japan. He has been Vice President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific (2000-2008) and is Vice President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific India chapter, based in New Delhi. A regular contributor to www.narthaki.com, Dr Kothari is honored by the President of India with the civil honor of Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi award.