A contemporary echo: Mei Dhwani
-  Satish Suri, Bangalore
e-mail: satishism@yahoo.co.in

September 13, 2011

Contemporary Dance seems to have come of age, which was clearly evident in the  resounding echo of appreciation from the packed hall in Bangalore on 4th August, when Attakalari Centre for Movement Arts presented  their new production Mei Dhwani, the title being derived  by linking the Tamil and Sanskrit words (mei meaning body and Dhwani  meaning echo).
Mei Dhwani subtly alludes to “Echoes of the body.” Metamorphically, the three elements fire, water and earth are symbolized through props. The synergy of the male and female energy, fire acts as a metaphor for male energy and its inherent destructive power and water the ever flowing life stream representing the female energy. The metallic pots used in the production suggest the unfathomable feminine infinity contrasted against the phallic cylindrical oil lamps.
This inspired production portrays individuals who are captives of circumstance and history. The narrative begins with Jayachandran Palazhy seated on a pot signifying the unity of body and spirit, as the dancers move into the stage using the language of movement of both Bharatanatyam and Kalaraipayyatu to conjure the sensorial narrative that traverses universal predicaments. The pots used by the female dancers    held in hand and rolled over the body through the skillful use of movements of the hands and legs create an individual narrative that oscillates between suspended realms of body and soul. The male dancers enter with metallic cylinders, symbolizing male energy. The awakening through the background tune “Hosh me aaa” as the lighted oil lamps are placed on the cylinders. The artists all dressed in white, capturing fragility and turmoil. The landscape soon changes to the artists’ costumes which sport a purple colour signifying preparation of the body. The tempo increases as the battle of fury wages within, resonating the collective memory of emotions ending finally with all the artists lying down on the floor and the spotlight focuses once again on Jayachandran sitting on the pot in the opposite corner of the stage from where he had started at the beginning of the show, traversing the imagined landscape and returning to the central theme of unity of mind body and spirit.
The dancers, three female and four male, energetic and vibrant, along with Jayachandran played their roles to perfection.  Excellent production values enriched the performance. The creative choreography of Jayachandran, the artistic and creative director of the company, the subtle and evocative lighting by Thomas Dotzler creating the ritualized arena, the vibrant soundscape provided by the Israeli composer and sound artist duo of Patrick Sebag and Yotam Agam, and the costumes designed by Himanshu and Sonali of Hidden Harmony with additional costume design by Asha and Samantha of Elan Design Studio complimented the aesthetic values of the production.

Contemporary Dance generally suffers from repetitive movements which hang heavy on the audience attention and this narrative did no better. It would have been more impactful if the duration in any way could have been reduced.

Satish Suri has been an ardent follower of dance and music for more than 40 years, starting with being on  the committee of the International Music and Arts Society founded by Vijaya Devi, sister of the Late Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar and now presently is treasurer of World Dance Alliance Karnataka Chapter. He has presented several artists, both dancers and musicians, over the last 40 years.