Sunday, June 15, 2008

(D) Harihara - In Love with Vishnu and Siva - Mac 23

I’m inclined to call this show a part of the Mavin Khoo Emerging Talent Series. This is of course, not official. But since Khoo’s return to Malaysia recently, he has been fishing out talented Malaysian dancers (classical Indian dance), nurturing them, and giving them a platform to perform and to carve a career in dance.

In the second show of this ‘series,’ Khoo collaborates with Shangita Namasivayam, founder of Kalpana Dance Theatre (KDT) to present Daisygarani Vijayakumaran. The Bharatanatyam performance was held last Sunday at Auditorium Tunku Abdul Rahman, MATIC, Kuala Lumpur. All pieces were choreographed by Khoo except the first item.

This is Daisyga’s second solo appearance, after SHARIRA – My Body, My Temple in 2006, held in Sutra. In HARIHARA, Daisyga explores the different possibilities of the relationship between the human and the divine, dramatically revealed through some of the most beautiful compositions in Karnatic music. It further juxtaposes two deities; ‘Hari’(Vishnu), which represents preservation, and ‘Hara’ (Shiva), which represents destruction.

In Todaya Mangalam choreographed by Padmashri Adyar K Lakshman, she performed an invocatory dance to Vishnu from a kid’s-eye-view, injecting something refreshing into the familiar. The quick movements naturally followed the joyful treatment and the very youthful interpretation of this piece, which makes it very engaging to watch.

In what seemed like a very long Varnam, Varnam: Sami Ninne Kori frames the conceptual theme of “love in separation.” The drama of this emotion was enfolded starting with the more traditional choreography incorporating Bharatanatyam’s more basic movements. The body language used was literal and easy to understand. One particular gesture was intentionally used extensively; I thought this was rather exploratory and creative. At this point, Khoo on nattuvangam sang his part in a rather hushed and deep tone injecting a sense of suspense into the ambience. Daisyga looks as if she’s enjoying herself as she immerses herself in Khoo's guiding voice. I maintain that it is always exciting to watch her facial expressions. There is never a dull moment.

In the middle of this piece is where the great storytelling starts. Daisyga sat down on center stage and using only her upper body, hands and head, she describes the distance of a travelling arrow and where it hit. A lot of ‘space’ was covered while staying put on one spot.

Yaro Ivar Yaro briefly describes the point where Princess Seeta gets a first glimpse of Rama. Daisyga plays the curious onlooker, who feelings of desire for Rama grow the more she ponders. This story is taken from Ramayana, an ancient Sanskrit epic, in which the principal characters are Rama and Seeta.

The feelings towards a man could not be compared to the consummating power of desire for the love of a deity, Krishna. In Ashtapadi: Sakhiya Kesi Madana Mudaram, Radha is engulfed with rage and guilt and torment waiting for Krishna’s fickle love. Sick of waiting, she climbs hills and valleys to find Krishna. And when she does her is anger quickly dissipated; her heart is at peace finally, in his arms. It’s a strange thing, this obsession for Krishna. No man would enjoy such tolerance for infidelity. Daisyga managed to engage the audience by keeping them in suspense on what her next emotion or reaction would be towards Krishna.

In the last piece, Thillana, Khoo first profiles the dancer putting her in poise and balance projecting straight body lines. These were followed by turns and footwork danced to the HARIHARA theme song. Daisyga tackled all these with ease, thus concluding the night with great applause.

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