Monday, February 12, 2007

The rasikas passionately responded to our dance and communicated their appreciation in cheers and tears of joy

Arts & Fashion Sunday January 28, 2007 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd Dancing through India By RAMLI IBRAHIM Pictures by KARTHIK VENKATARAMAN
The Sutra Dance Theatre overcame long, tedious train journeys, rickety makeshift stages and even threats to win the hearts of Indian audiences across the sub-continent with their performances of the odissi and the bharatanatyam.
RIGHT after our Canada-Europe Tour (September/October 2006), we embarked on our “Circumambulatory” India Tour 2006 (Nov 19 – Dec 31)). It was an ambitious and gruelling six-week round India tour, mainly by train. Our first destination in India was New Delhi and a bus immediately took us to Jaipur. We began our marathon performance schedule the next day.

Performing the odissi for schoolchildren with the City Palace as a backdrop.After five back-to-back performances in Jaipur, we returned to Delhi and proceeded to Neemrana in Rajasthan for another series of performances. We then travelled by train to Mumbai, Bangalore, Belur, Coimbatore, Chennai, Pondicherry, Auroville and finally, Bhubaneswar. As the tour took its own momentum, we stopped counting the number of performances we had done. Six weeks later, the Sutra team found themselves once again in New Delhi for their return flight to Malaysia. We were ourselves amazed that we had literally circumambulated the Indian sub-continent by train and performed no fewer than 25 performances watched by at least 50,000 people!
We took two programmes, “Vision of Forever” (odissi) and “Divine Encounters” (bharatanatyam) and a new contemporary work “Kamala”. Ramli does sentry duty with the guards at the City Palace in Jaipur.
Now, tracing our performance route in retrospect, we are amazed at what we had achieved! We had danced in gloriously wonderful venues, from ancient fort palaces (Neemrana), major cultural centres (Jawarhalal Cultural Centre Jaipur, designed by famous India architect Charles Correa; the Kamani Auditorium; National Centre of Performing Arts, Mumbai), ancient temples (Belur, 12th century, Karnataka), ashrams (Isha Foundation, Pondicherry;) to constructed make-shift stages on esplanades and parks in front of huge crowds. We were greatly appreciated everywhere we went. The pattern was the same in each city. We arrived, danced and conquered! ...
There were performances at the Isha and Pondicherry Ashrams where the audiences’ reaction completely floored us – the rasikas passionately responded to our dance and communicated their appreciation in cheers and tears of joy. These are the highlights that will forever be etched in our memories.

Ramli and Sutra dancers peeking out of a shack that served as their dressing room as they wait to perform on a makeshift stage in a Pondicherry night market.But two performances were landmarks in establishing Sutra as a major Indian dance group in India.
The first was in New Delhi, organised by Aurodhan Gallery (Pondicherry). This performance managed to capture art connoisseurs and the crème de la crème of dance in India’s capital city. Lalit Verma, the director of Aurodhan Gallery brought Dr Karan Singh (member of the Raja Sabha and chairman of Council for Cultural Relations) and Parvan Varma (director of ICCR) to see us for the first time.

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