Natya Darshan Seminar
EPIC WOMEN - Conference / Performance conclave
Dec 21: Epic Women performances
Photos: Vipul Sangoi

December 21, 2012

Engendered emotions

The first evening at the Epic Women conference opened with ‘Amba Shikhandi’, a new choreography by Priya Murle and Srikanth. While Priya followed the traditional folk Therukoothu style to depict Shikhandi, Srikanth adorned himself in a Sthree Vesham to show a mellower Amba. Both of them swear to fulfill their revenge against Bhishma, the grand old man of the family in the Mahabharata. Showing the various emotions this famous character felt, the end message “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, was driven home effectively with brilliant characterization of the roles both Priya and Srikanth chose to portray to some soul-stirring singing by Nandini Anand and nattuvangam by Roja Kannan.

Heroine Helen

The second performance for the evening was a solo contemporary dance presentation by Rajika Puri supported by multi-talented percussionist Suchet Malhotra. Portraying ‘the face that launched a thousand ships’ Rajika’s monologue dealt extensively with the story of Eleni of Sparta (commonly known as Helen of Troy), the Trojan war, the various characters in Greek mythology like Zeus, Agamemnon and other tales of love and war. Comparing that war to the Kurukshetra battle in the Mahabharata, Rajika’s Odissi mixed with her new choreography. Dressed in pure white, Rajika is a highly effective story-teller, narrating the ancient Greek myths in great detail, using English and ancient Greek in speech and song. The musical score worked excellently with Rajika’s performance.
Mystic Princess

The third and last performance for the evening was ‘Yashodhara,’ a multi-genre production directed by renowned playwright, scholar and performer Gowri Ramnarayan.  Collaborating with Bharatanatyam dancer Mythili Prakash and Carnatic vocalist Amrita Murali, Gowri’s JustUs Repertory put together a brilliant show on the life of Buddha’s wife Yashodhara  whom he abandoned when seeking nirvana.  Dealing extensively with the subject, Gowri spoke of not just her inspiration for her production, namely an ancient Ajanta cave mural, but also the hidden philosophy behind the life of a character like Princess Yashodhara. Was the Buddha right to make her his first victim in his search for enlightenment? Mythili’s soulful abhinaya conveyed her grief and loss as an abandoned wife, and as a single mother raising their son. Gowri’s well-researched script and Amrita Murali’s excellent Carnatic vocals came together in Mythili’s multi-dimensional portrayal of Yashodhara.

All the three shows had a packed Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan hall with some of the most renowned faces in the world of music and dance attending it. Seen amongst the audience were celebrated vocalist Aruna Sairam, Bharatanatyam dancer Malavika Sarukkai and Sudharani Raghupathy, several writers and scholars, and delegates to the Epic Women conference and scores of rasikas who filled the auditorium.