Pic source: Invite Emailer
Date: 16th Sep 2016 / 8th April 2017
Venue: Delhi / Kolkata
We were invited to watch Vamatara, a Bharatnatyam production by the veteran danseuse Malavika Sarukkai and her troupe, at Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi. We recently had the opportunity of watching this production again at GD Birla Sabhaghar, Kolkata on 8 April 2017.
Vamatara is an abstract theme conceptualized and choreographed by Sarukkai. The production celebrates the spirit of life symbolised through the lotus that rises out of sludge towards light. It is a sequence of 4 choreographies where the first and last pieces are directly related to this theme. The second and third pieces are based on Krishna. The production is supported by a combination of recorded music (first and last pieces) as well as live Bharatnatyam orchestra (second and fourth pieces). Perhaps the abstract concept of the first and last numbers demanded prerecorded soundtrack. Truth be told, we prefer listening to live accompanists and their interplay with the dancers any day and enjoyed the second and third compositions better.
It was clear that Sarukkai was accompanied by her senior disciples. In fact, we recognized Jyotsna Jagannath as we had seen her solo performance during our trip to Neemrana Fort. The whole troupe performed with clockwork precision deftly switching from delicate to aggressive movements as a piece demanded. Sarukkai’s seasoned expertise buoyed the performance and gave it an extra edge.
What we loved best about the show was the use of technology. Beautiful floral patterns were formed on stage floor as well as the backdrop through projection of light. In fact the rectangular light frame behind Sarukkai as Krishna reminded us of an idol on a temple altar. Further, the curtain in front of the stage moved up and down like a wave on the sea. All these were a wonderfully effective fusion of traditional art with modern technology.
Sarukkai said that the lotus in her theme was classical dances. Our traditional performing arts regularly face the onslaught of Bollywood, myriad TV channels, electronic games and social media. Yet they survive and move towards the light. As Vamatara.