Veterans educate and entertain at Dance India Asia Pacific

Aravinth Kumarasamy, Priyadarsini Govind, Anandavalli, Mohana Priyan Thavarajah, Seema Hari Kumar, Indranee Rajah (Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore) and Dr. Uma Rajan

Aravinth Kumarasamy, Priyadarsini Govind, Anandavalli, Mohana Priyan Thavarajah, Seema Hari Kumar, Indranee Rajah (Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore) and Dr. Uma Rajan  


Singapore’s Apsaras Arts organised dance intensives and performances, which offered an enriching experience

The eighth edition of Dance India Asia Pacific was organised by Apsaras Arts at Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore, from June 8-16. The week-long itinerary included natya intensives and workshops and performances.

The other highlights were an exhibition on the legend Balasaraswati, curated by musician Savita Narasimhan for Museum of Performing Arts (MoPa), Chennai, in collaboration with the Balasaraswati Institute of Performing Arts, and lecture-demonstrations by Bragha Bessell, Priyadarsini Govind, Rama Vaidyanathan, Mohan Priyan and Anandavalli. Apart from this, Aniruddha Knight presented a session with his two disciples and the musicians of Balasaraswati Institute of Performing arts at the Singapore Indian Fine Arts (SIFA) auditorium.

The nine-day intensive course in Bharatanatyam for advanced students was conducted by Bragha Bessell for abhinaya, Priyadarsini Govind for varnam. Mohan Priyan took classes for foundation course while Anandavalli conducted classes for advanced students. Gauri Diwakar conducted classes in Kathak for both beginners and advanced students. Rama Vaidyanathan guided a dancer, who had registered for individual project, right from the conception of the theme, to technique, music, lighting, costume, finding a sponsor, and arranging the performance. Last year three dancers had undertaken similar training under Priyadarsini Govind. The raison d’être is to offer intense training in classical dance forms by senior dancers, who have studied from legendary gurus. Now that most of the gurus are no more, these disciples are able to transmit knowledge of technique, which enriches the young aspirants.

Students at Mohanpriyan’s class

Students at Mohanpriyan’s class  

The module itself has been inspired by the U.K.’s Milap Fest, which has been holding this intensive training in Liverpool, inviting senior dancers from India to train young artistes of the Indian Diaspora, for past more than 15 years.

This module has been a huge success with more and more dancers taking such courses in Singapore. They come from India, Australia, the U.S. and Malayasia apart from the local dancers. They find the quality time spent with seniors extremely beneficial, helping them to understand better classical dance forms, their presentation, nuances, correct postures, expressions, meaning of the lyrics, interpretations and improvisations.

Director of the course Aravinth Kumarasamy, himself a senior Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer, musician and veena player has immense faith in these courses, which he thinks will leave the trainees enriched. At the end of nine days, there are brief presentations of training, of select portion of varnam, abhinaya in Bharatanatyam and Kathak, which gives invited audience to see the result and success of the entire exercise. Apsaras Arts has an enviable reputation of high standard of training in dance, music and presentations of choreographic works.

Bragha Bessell’s abhinaya — during her lec-dem — for the drunken bee, which the nayika sends as the messenger, will be remembered for long. Rama Vaidyanathan gave examples of her choreographic works where rhythm played supreme role. Choosing ‘hasita’ (laughter) as theme, Priyadarsini Govind effectively portrayed situations, which caused laughter. The quarrel between siblings Ganapati and Kartikeya was especially charming.

Anandavalli showed excerpts of her collaborative work with drummers in Sydney. She spoke of her journey in dance, of the rare luck she had to study under great gurus such as Gauri Amma at a very young age, Ramaiah Pillai, Vempati Chinna Satyam and how she is teaching in Sydney after migrating from Sri Lanka.

Mohan Priyan in his presentation of Purush Tandava performed the memorable pada of Oothuakkadu using Kalinganartana and dovetailing Surdas’s song in which Lord Siva wants to watch young Krishna dance in Gokul. Mother Yasoda gets frightened at Siva’s arrival with his serpents, his form with Jata and body besmeared with ashes, but he assures Yasoda that he has come to see Krishna’s dance. The sanchari of Krishna placing his head on the lap of Siva was exquisite. Aravinth Kumarasamy mentioned that when Krishna danced on the hood of Kaliya, there were marks of snake bites on Krishna’s feet. Such nuances were highly enjoyable.

Aruna Mohanty’s Odissi was flawless — from the word go to the final presentation of Nayaka and Pratinayaka. Gauri Diwakar presented a sophisticated aspect of Kathak, whereas Aniruddha Knight and his two disciples revealed the greatness of Balasaraswati’s legacy.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 5:01:00 AM |

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