Saturday, February 02, 2008

(D) Madhurya - Jan 25

Young dancer Hemavathi shows great potential as she plays out the love story in Madhurya.

For a 19-year-old, Hemavathi Sivanesan displayed plenty of maturity as a dancer when she performed Madhurya – the Sacred Feminine in a Journey of Love recently at The Actors Studio, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur. The show was presented by the Temple of Fine Arts.

Hemavathi was spotted during her arangetram (solo debut) last September by Mavin Khoo, Malaysia’s very own veteran and critically-acclaimed classical Indian dancer. Khoo immediately proposed a project to further hone her creativity and emotive imagination.

Khoo is back in Malaysia for yet another short stint and it seems his mission this time is to promote and encourage emerging artistes such as Hemavathi. Madhurya was specially choreographed by Khoo for her.

Hemavathi studied ballet for 15 years and bharatanatyam for 13 years. Interestingly, Khoo started dance at the Temple of Fine Arts when he was seven years old under the tutelage of Vasuki Sivanesan, who is Hemavathi’s mother and dance teacher.

Coming full circle, Khoo now guides Hemavathi as guru and nattuvanar (rhythm master) playing the nattuvangam, small cymbals that sound out the detailed rhythm of the feet.

Madhurya is a solo bharatanatyam piece with more drama than dance. It explores the many complex layers and nuances of the female soul. The theme of love echoed throughout the five pieces, presented in two acts. I found that Hemavathi danced better in the first act and “acted” better in the second.

In Varnam (in act one), she displayed terrific spirit, stamina and strength, and great mastery of technique. Hemavathi tackled Khoo’s difficult and sometimes even punishing choreography with practised perfection and completed it with only faint signs of fatigue.

However, to accomplish this feat, I felt that the emotive part was compromised, somewhat. The feeling of empathy that she was trying to create for the yearning-for-love heroine role could not be sustained throughout.

In Padam (in act two), however, Hemavathi embodied the confident and no-nonsense woman calling for Krishna to come to her grandly. Coaxing Krishna gently, she looked every bit a mother persuading a guilty child.

Given the maturity that she displayed as a young dancer, I would say Hemavathi should certainly be given every encouragement to pursue a career in dance. And, thanks to the strong support from her mentor and the entire arts institution, I’m sure, for her, dance would be a “journey of love”.

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