BHARATANATYAM dancer Sreelatha Vinod feels every great performer of this Indian classical dance carries a creative legacy which is visible, and one that all audiences can relate to.
“This is the incredible appeal of Indian classical dance. It truly is unparallelled,” says Chennai-based Sreelatha who will perform in Shringara -- Divine Love, along with five other dancers, all trained in India’s Kalakshetra style.
Joining her on stage is P.T Narendran and two couples -- Nidheesh Kumar and Indu Nidheesh; and Shijith Nambiar and Parvathy Menon. The latter did the concept and choreography for this unique presentation.
The show, jointly presented by the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Indian Cultural Centre, High Commission of India in Malaysia and Kalpana Dance Theatre, will tour Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor beginning May 26.
THREE DIVINE COUPLES
Shringara, a thematic bharatanatyam show, offers the concept of polar opposites with the sentiment of love as the focus — from Ayoga Shringara or the aching, longing aspect of love caused by privation, and Viprayoga Shringara or the sentiment of separation in love, to Sambhoga Shringara or the Union.
The dancers have drawn their material from three great epics in three Indian languages: The Rukmini Kalyanam canto from the Bhagavatham in Telugu, the Kamba Ramayanam in Tamil, and the Kumarasambhavam in Sanskrit.
In each of these three pieces, the sentiment of divine love revolves around three divine couples: Rukmini and Krishna, Sita and Rama, and Parvathy and Shiva.
“All classical dances in India carry long traditions of thought, development, performance, and also literary and musical brilliance. Over centuries, the art of performance has evolved into what it is today through innumerable refinements by the brilliance of meteoric artistes, gifted choreographers, musical maestros, bards, epic poets, revolutionary thinkers right down to the present day,” says Sreelatha, who began her dance studies at the age of 5.
“When one looks into the backgrounds of the artistes of this performing group, the common thread is the beauty of the Kalakshetra style and approach.
“The amalgamation of talent will be a wonderful spectacle for all lovers of classical bharatanatyam and music alike,” says Sreelatha, who studied under the famous dance pair, the Dhananjayans.
The dancers have all performed solo pieces before in Malaysia but this will mark a first for them as an ensemble.
Parvathy, known with her husband Shijith as young ambassadors of the dance form, says they have been dancing together for the past 12 years.
“There is a certain kind of energy that has evolved over the years. The hardest part of dancing together would be coordinating one’s movements with the other, especially when one is used to performing solo for many years.
“The easiest part would be the ability to portray various characters while depicting a storyline.
“Both of us started our journey in the performing arts after completing our postgraduation from Kalakshetra. Both of us are extremely passionate about the arts and it is this passion that keeps our spirits kindled.
“Over the years, we have realised that each performance is a learning experience and every aspect of the performance is important. Everything matters and there is no easy way out.”
Parvathy says the dance form reverberates in all styles.
On contemporary works in this age-old classical style, Sreelatha feels being a performer and being capable of sensitive choreography are two different things.
“When one looks at the popularity canvas of the world of Indian dance and more so with bharatanatyam, there are indeed a great many performers - both in India and around the world. This is true as a mark of popularity and acceptance of the art form.
“As a creative choreographer, the first distinction is the ability to gauge the depths of individually strong performers and then to have the capacity to string together delicate and inspiring movement so as to make it seem fluid, beautiful, and sensitive - thus creating a lasting experience.
“This is the challenge of contemporary choreographers and it is also the reason why they do not appear often or by the dozen when they do. It is also what makes the art unique. It’s what gives it the magic and its timelessness.”
Sreelatha’s passion for her artform burns strong after 30-odd years under her teachers.
“I truly believe that one must carry the passion within to start any creative endeavour. The same passion also keeps the fire burning. For real artistes, this neither dies nor decays.” — By SUBHADRA DEVAN, firstname.lastname@example.org
SHRINGARA- Divine Love
When: May 26, 7.30pm
Where: Shantanand Auditorium, Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, KL
Call 017 672 5672 for details.