Indian Dance played to a full house at the Seymour Theatre on 18 November. It was a program of classical Indian dances with a few surprises, like the chanting of the names of the 24 single hand gestures in Sanskrit from the Natyasastra text the Balinese mask dance, depicting characters from the Ramayana, and a Katha told in English with singing in Sanskrit about how the epic poem the Ramayana came to be written in a new verse form, the sloka, by the poet, Valmiki.
One member of the audience, Pamela Schuttler, who has been coming to Nayika Indian Dance performances over a number of years, had this to say about the show.
“The first dance by Vimala, Gajah Vadana Beduve, was beautifully mimed. It was very expressive dancing with beautiful costume – just like a temple dancer. Her second piece was an Annamacharya song, Muthugare Yasoda. Even though we did not understand the words, we loved the melodic song, and Vimala mined the roles of characters in the stories told in the dance very convincingly. The chanting of the Sanskrit verses with the names of the single hand gestures, from the theatrical text, the Natyasastra, written in about the 2-5th centuries, by students Carol Ng and Evgenia Titova, was really interesting as one does not realise the amount of practice and skill required to remember those twenty-four hand gestures. An unexpected twist was that the gestures were demonstrated with a white glove on the hand giving an unusual western effect.
The Balinese mask dance, done by Sisca Hunt, had an interesting storyline, and set to very dramatic kechak music. The death of the vulture, Jatayu, was particularly effective. Tillana by Aziz Haque and Sheetal Challam had quite complex footwork, although the stage was a little small for them to be really expressive in their dancing.
Finally, the Katha which occupied the rest of the time (one hour) was very compelling listening. The show was free for the Redfern Community. During the telling of the Katha, a poem by Kath Walker the aboriginal poetess, was read out because there was a parallel with the Valmiki story (where a male bird was shot with an arrow) about needless killing. Aboriginal society has the same injunction. The contemporary asides of Ananth Rao were apt and the Sound Lounge provided just the right intimate atmosphere for him as well as his accompanying musicians.”
24 November 2010