Dance mania in December
Iyengar and the Rangoli Dance Company
December 26, 2004
|For the third
year in succession, Malathi Iyengar from California with members of her
Rangoli Dance Company and guest artistes from India, were performing at
the NRI Festival of Dance and Music conducted by Hamsadwani. The
evening started with an invocation item dedicated to Goddess Rajarajeswari
in the Bharatanatyam style by Lakshmi Iyengar, Hema Iyer, Kirti Ramgopal,
Padmini Upadhaya, and Deepa Narayan. This was followed by prayers to Nataraja
and Krishna in Kathak style performed by Murali Mohan from Bangalore. The
costumes were all in shades of red / maroon, and unfortunately, so was
the faded and shabby maroon backdrop. Murali Mohan’s costume was also in
a maroon shade!
In the first
scene, the cowherd is seen with his cows. The cows even have names, and
one of them is Punyakoti, played by Malati Iyengar. When the tiger Arbuta
catches Punyakoti, she begs him for a few minutes leave to bid farewell
to her son before he made a meal of her. Renjith Babu showed imagination
and energy in portraying the menacing strides of the evil Arbuta. The next
scene shows the mother and son (Fayil Bikmouline) bidding tearful farewells,
with the other cows watching in sorrow. Arbuta cannot believe his eyes
when Punyakoti returns and thus keeps her word. Punyakoti’s lament was
well portrayed by Malathi. The last, soul-searching moments of a penitent
Arbuta, how he lopes to a nearby cliff (a small stool covered in black
cloth), and jumps to the ground in shame, rolling across the stage before
collapsing in a heap, was beautifully performed by Renjith. How he managed
to do that on the hard stage floor and not get hurt is a miracle in itself!!
Once the identity of the ‘cows’ has been established, more variety in movements should be brought in to avoid monotony setting in, to give the dancers a better visibility instead of being relegated to the background and also to appeal to a wider audience.
When a festival
like this has become a yearly feature, the organizers would do well to
first provide a decent, basic stage décor – a plain black or dark
blue backdrop and neat side wings is a must. It hurt to see side wings
of varied shades as well as benches and chairs stacked on the sides! Sometimes,
a shabby stage décor could make even a good production appear mediocre.
the inspiration behind this theme?
How do you
feel about performing here in the Chennai season?
called the NRI (Non Resident Indian) Dance and Music Festival, presented
every year by Hamsadwani. Are you happy that there is such a festival?
We are also Indians; we were born here. It’s our land. Only thing is, right now we are far away from India, thousands of miles away. There are lots of artistes outside India who are genuinely already doing good work with sincerity and integrity, or want to learn to do better. We will feel more welcome, if our work is accepted with a little bit more open mindedness. Good or mediocre, I think the work of Indians from overseas needs to be looked at and to be taken seriously, because a lot of research, expense, hard work and physical labor go into it.
facilities available to you here?
we have had no prior information about who is performing at this NRI festival.
One has to see the paper daily for details.
the production and travel expenses?
will still come to Chennai for the next season and maybe perform?
It is easy
to get compliments. A compliment comes and goes. But I get a good feedback
here, and it helps me to see what else I can do to better myself. That
matters more to me. That’s why I like to come here!
by Hamsadhwani as part of the 10th NRI Dance and Music Festival).