Rhythms of Mother Earth - Classical Indian and Contemporary Dancepresented by the Australian Tamil Foundation Canberra for Canberra National Multicultural Festival. ANU Arts Centre March 20, 1999.
The ATFC has done multiculturalism, the Indian community and the broader Australian community a valuable service in asking three companies to make dances in response to the theme Rhythms of Mother Earth. A new blending of classical Indian and contemporary styles was presented, as migrants from India and SE Asia come to terms with the Australian landscape while descendants of European migrants discover the power of the Indian dance language.
Bharatam Dance Company (Melbourne) presented a strongly focussed Bhumanjali - Homage to Mother Earth, choreographed and performed by Thamilvanan Veshnu under the direction of Dr Chandrabhanu, who after 25 years has clearly established a major inspirational role. This work shows why. Beginning in classical style to represent the Earth as Goddess, and progressing through stages towards an international "modern" style, representing Earth as Mystery and finally as Destruction, the Hindu understanding of the universe is brought to bear on present-day reality. The mystery and beauty of Australia, evoked in a rhythmic soundscape of bird calls, does not survive in this tragic view.
Tara Rajkumar, researcher and teacher at Monash University - instrumental in reviving the softer Mohinattam classical dance style and popularising the more theatrical form of Kathakali - presented Natya Sudha Dance Company performers Nithya Gopu (as Kali, Mother of the Universe), Prathayana Chandrakumar (an excellent Kathakali drama of Bhima in the Forest) and Tatayana Pozar-Burgar with Nithya Gopu (a contemporary style view of woman as Prakrithi - cosmic energy that is infinite, positive and feminine). For me the classical forms were much more successful than the modern from this company.
From Sydney, Lingalayam Dance Company Director Anandavalli opened the evening with an impressive secular invocation to Bhumadevi - Mother Earth. Earth, Water, Fire and Wind were brought together in a Space full of vibrant energy.
Inspired by Anandavalli, Canberrans Jenny White presented her Orbital Fracture and Niki Shepherd her Resounding Rhythms. Both smoothly blended classical and modern forms: White's piece a clear and pure abstraction on the moment of decisive silence; Shepherd's solo a dramatic mix of Greek myth and Hindu expression. A satisfying and fascinating evening.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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