The Karkitakam month begins today. So for many households in Kerala, the evenings of the next 31 days are devoted to reading Ezhuthachan’s Adhyathma Ramayanam Kilippattu .
This time, you could also watch, from the comfort of your home, the tale of Lord Rama in classical dance forms over the next one month. A unique online dance festival, curated by city-based Bharatanatyam dancers N. Srikanth and Aswathy, opens on Saturday.
Interestingly, it features only male dancers, who are perennially sidelined by oragnisers of dance festivals. “ Ramayana is the story of Lord Rama and we felt it would be nice to have an exclusive festival for male dancers,” says Srikanth. “Besides, we wanted to put the male dancers in the limelight only once.”
All the shows, which open today, will feature the character of Rama. “I have ensured that there will be no repetition of an item,” he says. “Each dancer will be choreographing a different song.”
Hit by pandemic
And those dancers are drawn from different parts of India and even overseas, from countries such as Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. “We thought of organising such a festival because the practice of reading Ramayana during a specific month is unique to Kerala,” says Aswathy. “When we spoke to the dancers, they all wanted to be part of it.”
The dancers, of course, are among the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of them have not been on a stage for well over a year.
“Online festivals like these give the performing artistes an opportunity to perform, though there is nothing like dancing on the stage in front of an appreciative audience,” says Aswathy. “We have been able to get a group of excellent dancers for the festival.”
Most of the dancers will perform Bharatanatyam. But a couple of Kuchipudi dancers have also been roped in and there will be an Odissi performance too.
You could watch the festival on the YouTube channel Rasanubhava Official from 6 p.m. onwards over the next one month.