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Remembering Ashoka the great

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History recalled Dancers of the ballet on the life of Ashoka
History recalled Dancers of the ballet on the life of Ashoka

The ballet on Emperor Ashoka will be an eye-opener

Nineteen dancers, one theme and a united goal went into the making of Ashoka’s Dhammapada. Archana Karry and Renjith Babu Choorakad are working overtime to effectively choreograph a dance-ballet based on the life of Ashoka the great.

The performance is scheduled for the first week of April at Shilpakala Vedika. Around 14 dancers including Renjith, who manages the dance academy have come all the way from Chennai.

Dance drama

“The idea is to translate the incidents of Ashoka’s life from being a king to leading a virtuous life by embracing the eightfold paths into a dance drama. To effectively and successfully present a dance ballet on Ashoka, our first effort was to understand how the Monarch earned the title of Ashoka the Great. Our extensive research in on this Mauryan King helped us understand that he was an individual who by transforming himself brought about magnanimous transition in the society at large. Ashoka with his changed administrative policies and civil governance laid down a path which though never traversed before, braced the promise of a successful regime,” explains Archana.

Archana, who conceptualised the ballet, is an accomplished dancer, imparts management training through dance to corporates in the city.

The ballet will be a mixture of various dance styles including Bharatanatyam, Kalaripattu, free style, folk and yoga.

As one watches the troupe practise, one gets reminded of the Doordarshan serial Discovery of India which was presented by Roshan Seth way back in the 80s. “The idea is to recreate that era. And to effectively do that, we will require to show how King Ashoka spent his time in the Gurkul, learnt warfare and how he was emotionally wrecked after the devastating war which he waged,” explains Renjith as he improvises a Kalaripatu posture on the three guys.

What made the two dancer-choreographer choose Ashoka as the theme?

“Our study on Ashoka also helped us comprehend that most of Ashoka’s practices are solutions to burning issues of today’s times. Ashoka realised unity of the country could only be attained by showing respect to all. Ashoka’s intent was to initiate a practice of social behaviour so expansive and benign in its scope, that no person, no matter what his religion, would be able to object it. He led the battle of Kalinga. Ashoka accepted his fault and acted upon it.

If most of us and our leaders follow this, we India with all its diversity would be the most envious and prosperous country,” explains Archana as they enact the scene where Ashoka touches a beggar’s feet much to the dismay of his courtiers.

The play will also touch upon other aspects like vision, administration, planning and an orderly society. The troupe wants to impact every individual to vote for the right governance, fight pollution, plant trees and show respect to fellow human beings.

PRABALIKA M. BORAH

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