Anita Ratnam presents
Neelam: Drowning in Bliss
Experimental Theatre, NCPA
Sept 3, 2015 Mumbai
July 29, 2015
Inspired by the silent corridors of Vishnu temples in South India, NEELAM illuminates the many shades of devotion and worship to the Lord. From the voice of 7th century poet saint Andal, through the passionate tones of Saint Annamayya in the 16th century, NEELAM finally rests upon the undiluted adoration of Muthuswami Dikshitar in the 18th century. The dance presentation explores the concept of "prapatti" or total surrender which is unique to Sri Vaishnavism. The choreography draws from the ritual movements of the ‘Arayer’ chanting priests and the iconography of Vishnu’s various avatars.. The costume highlights the concepts of "jeevatma" and "paramatma"- the male-female duality that upholds Vishnu as the only masculine presence or "Purusha" and all humanity as the feminine principle. The recorded score and sound design resonate this quiet devotion with the Carnatic music structures of Kritis, ragam. tanam and pallavi.
NEELAM has been performed to wide acclaim in India and the USA.
Date: September 3, 2015
At: NCPA EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE, Mumbai
Introduction by Arundhathi Subramaniam
Concept, Choreography and Performance: Anita Ratnam
Direction and Choreography Mentor: Hari Krishnan
Flute: G Raghuraman
Lighting: Deepa Dharmadhikari
Costumes: Ideated and designed by REX and realised by Sandhya Raman and Prabha Narasimhan
Music : Ritual sources
Vocals: Sikkil Gurucharan, Subhiksha Rangarajan, Sharanya Krishnan, Vedanth Bharadwaj
Percussion: KSR Aniruddha
Piano: Anil Srinivasan
Sound Design: Anita Ratnam and Vedanth Bharadwaj
"- the synergy creating a kind of magic with that ageless song, the dance and the mood of divinity it invoked for those few brief moments."
- Chitra Mahesh, Deccan Chronicle
Neelam - of skies, seas and the in-betweens…of the masculine, the feminine and the in-betweens…
NEELAM represents a significant turning point in solo performances by a mature practitioner. In the confusing conundrum of modernity, Anita Ratnam's performance and articulation established a confident and honest clarity in word and action. A brilliant showcase of dance, theatre, music, lighting and visual design.
- Aniruddhan Vasudevan, Nartanam
Anita's ingenuity and creativity was all pervasive and conspicuous.....Her artistic magnificence glowed forth.....NEELAM fully showcased her consummate artistry in the exquisite choreography.
- M Surya Prasad, The Hindu, Bangalore
Neelam: Poetry in motion
Nambi and Sri, Andal and Madhusudhana, Krishna and Radha and finally, Rama and Sita are the characters who draw a historical arc from the 8th to the 18th centuries, creating moments of passion and devotion, re-imagined by Anita for a modern audience.
- Ranjani Saigal, Lokvani
"The artiste, who scored on concept and creativity was Anita Ratnam in 'Neelam.' She used a ragam-tanam-pallavi format of Dikshitar's 'Rangapura vihara' sung by Sikkil Gurucharan to visualise Lord Ranganatha through the Ramayana and the Dasavatara legends. The imaginative use of the long, flower garland as a prop was another creative add-on. The frieze of Kothanda Rama was especially dramatic."
- Rupa Srikanth, Friday Review, The Hindu
Very strong feminine top and masculine bottom form, creates a tension that is at once is exciting and compelling. It continues through the four sequences of the presentation. Anita does a 10-minute Ramayana aalap and makes appropriate and effective use of props with the familiar, heart warming elements of the parrot, garland and Lakshman rekha that enjoy universal appeal with audiences across.
This interdisciplinary method of working with many artistes has given her productions a unique edge in her performance structures, challenging the role and space, for mature women as performing artistes in a global world, fuelled by youth and celebrity.
- Deccan Herald