Samudra Dance drama ‘Jalam’ was a seamless blend of Kalaripayuttu, Bharatanatyam and yoga.
Invoking the blessings of the lord of the Panchabhoothas, Siva, and paying obeisance to the god of rain, Varuna, the Sutradara or narrator set the tone for ‘Jalam,’ a dance production on water, presented by the Samudra Centre for Indian Contemporary Performing Arts, Kerala, in the city recently.
The hour-long production captured the energy of the life-giving source, and its moods from the calm to the turbulent, all visualised in abstraction. The best part about ‘Jalam’ was its down-to-earth honesty.
Using simple props such as white or silver cloth, a face mask and water, the production relied on the body language of the dancers and the suggestive lighting (Jose Koshy) that highlighted the silhouette rather than the face, to create the feel.
The music (Samudra, Kalamandalam Anand, Dasan, Kavalam Sajeev) too was unique, a blend of a haunting flute, an occasional chant and a predominance of percussion (chenda, edakka, dhol, mridangam).
Besides the creative intent of ‘Jalam,’ it was the skill of the dancers that grabbed attention.
The movement vocabulary created by Madhu Gopinath and Vaikkom Sajeev, the founders of Samudra, maybe considered the personification of discipline in the performing arts.
Flexibility, agility and precision are bywords where strong movements -- inspired by Kalaripayattu, Bharatanatyam and Yoga -- and perfect body alignment generate a rare energy of their own.
As the production traversed through the prayerful stage to the happy moments and to the troubled waters that react to misuse by humans, ending the presentation on a note of hope for the pure waters to pour forth again, the dancers kept you engaged throughout, whether you were caught in the mood or mesmerised by the rigour and coordination of the percussion artists.