Published: Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:00:00 PM
The intricacies of bharatanatyam and Odissi are assimilated in fusion dance performance Sharanagati.
HOMEGROWN dance school Kalpana Dance Studio is about to register one of its most significant milestones since its formation in 1996 with dance presentation, Sharanagati(Absolute Surrender). The performance will feature two orchestras (from South and East India) and two Indian dance styles under the leadership of renowned New Delhi-based Carnatic vocalist O.S. Arun.
Sharanagati – the brainchild of Kalpana Dance Studio’s director Shangita Namasivayam – will offer both the bharatanatyam and Odissi dance styles.
The challenging task of assimilating the distinctive features of two dance forms is led by award-winning dancers and choreographers, Chennai-based P.T. Narendran and Leena Mohanty of Orissa. Illuminating the stage with them are dancers Sumathi Chandra, Gowri Chandran, Umayal Eswaran and Nritta Ganeshi Manoharan.
Shangita feels that through the performance, dance enthusiasts can savour the artistic creativity of classical Odissi and bharatanatyam on one stage.
"I’ve always wanted to combine both dance forms in a confluence. Both styles have their own integrity and discipline, so it requires a lot of skill to merge them without jeopardising the various techniques used in each dance form,” said Shangita, 49, during an interview in Kuala Lumpur recently.
Shangita’s enthusiasm for the production was palpable, especially the new choreography, which leverages on the creative collaboration of the choreographers. One can understand Shangita’s delight as she has, after all, been planning for the performance for over two years.
"Narendran tours the world for shows while Leena is based in Texas and has a tight schedule, having to juggle between caring for her eight-year-old daughter and dance career. Due to their job demands, I literally booked them years in advance (laughs).
"Once I had secured the choreographers, I went on to convince O.S. Arun to come. This will mark his first collaboration with East Indian and West Indian musicians to showcase the fusion between carnatic and Odissi music,” explained Shangita, a trained bharatanatyam exponent from the esteemed Kalakshetra Academy in Chennai, India.
The music score was specially composed and arranged last year by O. S. Arun and Dheeraj Kumar Mohapatra, a versatile and accomplished vocalist of Orissa.
Sharanagati paves the way for wisdom to blossom in the heart of the surrendered soul. For the dancer, it is the journey inwards to overcome self-consciousness and to connect with the Divine.
"Sharanagati is a process of opening up your heart, so it can receive the light that comes from the Divine. The performance focuses on the loving relationship between the Lord and devotee,” said Leena, who has performed at many local productions, including KDT’s Leela Purushottama - The Supreme Absolute, Anjali - Homage To Guru Deba Prasad Das, Arousing the Spirit Within – Revelations of Odissi and Sutra Dance Theatre’s Shyam Shyama – A Journey Divine.
The performance is divided into six dances – Pushpanjali(flower offering) is an invocatory piece featuring Odissi and bharatanatyam with carnatic and Odissi music; Pallavicombines bharatanatyam and Odissi with Odissi music;Varnam is a presentation of expressive and mythological elements of bharatanatyam with Carnatic music; Omkarakarini– a bharatanatyam and Odissi piece featuring carnatic music – pays tribute to Goddess Shakti while Chandana Bahuda is a traditional piece from Orissa featuring Odissi dance and music. The grand finale, Shiva, explores different facets of Lord Shiva. It will be performed in both styles and dances.
The choreographers arrived in Kuala Lumpur a month ago and have been working closely with the dancers to ensure their tireless efforts (they have been training the dancers for about eight to 10 hours daily) will culminate in an extraordinary performance. But the question remains – how are the choreographers planning to combine their different styles in one performance?
Narendan, 46, explained: "Dance is a nonverbal language that conveys emotions and actions. Although Odissi and bharatanatyam have different dance techniques, we have incorporated the concepts of tandava (brisk and structured movements) and lasya (gentler and curvy movements) in our choreography to complement both styles. This will enable the audience to soak in the majestic tradition of bharatanatyam, complemented by the grace and beauty of Odissi.”
"All the dancers in the production are well trained in their respective dance styles and it has been easy to create new concepts with them. Although there are also differences in age and experience, it was easily overcome as everyone’s focus is to make the production a memorable one.”
Leena, 40, chipped in: "The dancers are disciplined and have been a joy to work with. While we may have faced some hurdles dealing with musicians from two different parts of India as well as agreeing with costume, props, stage sets and lighting, the results have been satisfying. The joy that every dancer has experienced in every step of the production is a memory that I’ll cherish.”
Sharanagati is scheduled for Friday and Saturday (8pm) at Shantananad Auditorium, Temple of Fine Arts, Jalan Berhala, Kuala Lumpur and Sunday (7.30pm) at Ipoh Town Hall in Ipoh, Perak. For invitations, call 017-672 5672 / 012-291 8308 (Kalpana Dance Theatre) or 03-2274 3709 (Temple Of Fine Arts).
BY SHEELA CHANDRAN