A voyage of discovery

ALL THOSE at the Music Academy on November 29 were moved by what was going on. A woman in great pain opened out her life for all to see and understand what real tragedy is all about. Even then it is not something one can fully understand — the depth and the wretchedness of it all. One can only empathise and share. It is a lonely passage and though there are many who will hold her hand and see her through it, the redemption if there ever is, is hers alone. It is a solitary learning experience! And Lata Pada has learnt it very well. The world came crumbling down on what seemed to be a fine morning in 1985 — the day she learnt that her family consisting of husband and two daughters were on that ill-fated Kanishka aircraft that crashed off the coast of Ireland. No survivors.The agony was terrible. The question uppermost on her mind in that bleak hour and for a long time haunted her was — Why was she spared? She married when she was just 17. Life seemed beautiful — as two girls were born and grew up full of fun and laughter — until the phone rang that morning to convey the news that left her shattered.

Living then became a nightmare. Nothing made sense, not even the music and the dance that she loved.

But then nothing lasts forever. Even grief has to gradually yield place to something more positive. And it did in Lata's case. Nobody is forgotten. The pain is not gone. The tragedy is still very fresh. But all this is put into the movements that nourish, replenish and provide a catharsis. It is time to don the anklets. All this was encapsulated in the production that used various mediums - video-photography, narration, music — to tell this tale of remarkable strength and grit. The core of the venture was the triumph of Lata Pada's transformation from nothing to something truly meaningful. Which is probably why the dance took a backseat. Never mind if some stretches were long drawn out or were sketchy.

Everything done was to tell a story — a personal one that delved deep into the soul the movements being mere manifestations. Which makes it difficult to analyse. In her own words ``When I began to conceive `Revealed by Fire,' I knew that the events of my own life would necessarily be part of the narrative. What I didn't realise is that throughout the two and half years of development of travel to India of workshops and discussions and artistic creation I would come to understand that this project is far more than a document of events. It is in fact and continues to be a voyage of discovery that has allowed each and every person involved to find elements of their own personal mythology, their own voice, their own journey through the narrative and context of the piece." That perhaps is what the audiences shared with her that day. In that sense it became a personal journey towards a better tomorrow.

``Revealed by Fire" is Sampradaya Dance Creations' (Canada) most ambitious undertaking and has toured the metros of India in November. It is a collaboration of some of the best minds in the fields of visual arts (Cylla Von Tiedemann), music (R. A. Ramamani), sound composition (Timothy Sullivan) dramaturgy and playwriting (Judith Rudakoff) costumes (Preeti Gopinath) lighting design (Mithran Devanesan). They are among a host of people who have infused life into this production.

With choreography by Lata Pada, her group of dancers comprising Uppekkha Jain, Neena Kodavatiganti, Aneela Maharaj and Suba Navaratnasingam gave her supple support and provided the backdrop. The one hour twenty minute performance was followed by a 15-minute interactive session with Lata Pada where she spoke about the work reaching out to audiences across the worldAnd about the entire process of the seminal work that has incorporated digitally created sounds and pictures. Where dance music and images are blended. Revealed By Fire was brought to Chennai at the instance of the Duchess Club in association with Arts Umbrella.


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