Tagore Comes Alive in Victoria

A unique confluence of art and culture is unveiled at the Victorian College of the Arts

 

On Saturday 23rd March 2013 a bold new experiment in cross-cultural arts was unveiled at the Victorian College of the Arts in the esteemed Southbank arts precinct of Melbourne.

“Tagore’s Vision – The Poetry of India”, was the brainchild of Artistic Director Tara Rajkumar OAM. The production skilfully combined a diverse blend of artistic and cultural elements including Australian poetry, classical Indian dance, contemporary movement, original music and the famous poetry of India’s Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

The evening involved a national league of collaborating artists including poet Kelvin Brown (Adelaide), costume designer Vernon Curtis (Melbourne), researcher Hamsa Venkat (Sydney), members of Tara Rajkumar’s own Natya Sudha Dance Company along with Govind Pillai of Karma Dance Inc.

Hosted jointly by the Australia-India Institute (AII) and the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), the production demonstrated what is possible when artists, educational institutions and cross-cultural bodies join forces to propel original artistic work in Australia. The exclusively invited audience was left with an impression of the haute creativity that can be born from collaborations of this calibre.

 

In their opening addresses, both the distinguished hosts Professor Amitabh Mattoo, Director of the AII; and Professor Barry Conyngham, Dean, Faculty of the VCA and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music of the University of Melbourne, made specific reference to the importance of this event as a symbol of the partnership between the AII and the VCA. Both institutions affirmed their aims to promote cultural exchange between Australia and India through artistic partnership. They also released three volumes of Collector of Words, poems by Australian poet, Kelvin Brown.

 

The evening opened with the traditional lighting of the lamp, performed as a ritual set to original music and English poetry where distinguished guests and all performing artists came together to inaugurate the event. Subsequently, two original contemporary dance works were presented, showcasing the versatility of poet Kelvin Brown and senior dancers Raina Peterson, Nithya Gopu, Rasika Mohan and Govind Pillai. The centerpiece of the evening, Tagore’s famous play “Chandalika” was a well-woven tapestry of emotional and social commentary. This segment skillfully conveyed the plight of a young untouchable woman and the surrounding community in rural India. Notable solo performances were delivered by Deepa Nayar, Vernon Curtis, and Sruthi Sridhar. In concluding the evening, an innovative tribute to mother India was delivered through a striking combination of the two classical Indian styles of Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam.