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electronic sounds and futuristic special effects. With music

Time:2019-08-12 19:11Shoes websites Click:

Rukmini Devi Arundale Opera House Mumbai Jayalakshmi Eshwar

With a guru like Rukmini Devi Arundale, it was natural for Jayalakshmi Eshwar to explore and reinvent dance in eclectic forms. Last year, it was at the Opera House Mumbai where she blended modernity with the classical in India’s first-of-its-kind fantasy Bharatnatyam transmedia dance opera, Antariksha Sanchar: Transmissions in Space. This time it was Delhi. Akhandalaya: The Unvanquished Rhythm is a 90-minute four-segment composition that translates the rhythms of the universe governing the earth. Like her guru’s art, Eshwar’s work has a spiritual quality.

For the theosophists, Arundale was Jiddu Krishnamurti’s spiritual counterpart. She could even have been President of India had she acceded to prime minister Morarji Desai’s request.

With such a repertoire of experience, Arundale was more than a dancer—she was an interpreter of the cultural, aestethic and creative ethos of the world. This perspective enriched students like Eshwar whose first dance production was under her tutelage at Chennai’s Kalakshetra—The Ramayana (1967). Since then, for five decades, Eshwar had experimented with different formats: solo, groups and multi-stream collaborations in India and abroad. No medium is taboo: she played a Tanjore dancer in the award-winning Kannada film Hamsa Geethe.

The world over, dance technology is a brave new trend: digital choreography programme Dance Designer uses prerecorded stock movements, the Motion Bank is used to create personalised 3D steps using archival scenes, ‘E-Traces’ slippers electronically record foot pressure and movement. Eshwar is part of the movement to globalise Indian art using technology in tradition. The Unvanquished Rhythm was a multimedia sci-fi production which incorporated video game elements, traditional Carnatic music, electronic sounds and futuristic special effects.

With music, sets, history and dance, she played the convergent storyteller of a Tamil fantasy of temples, devis and sci-fi retro machines. This time, too, Akhandalaya stays true to the grammar of classical dance. It took Eshwar and team 12 months to complete Akhandalaya, which, like her Mumbai performance, blends traditional Carnatic and electronic music. The difference between the two is that the Delhi theme is the cyclic relationship between life and Nature.

The choreography technique is Bharatanatyam. Lyrics are Sanskrit. The Vedic enactment of Hindu philosophy in Tamil Sangam literature is the spiritual essence. Eshwar enjoys the challenge of writing a script from scratch, choosing the lyrics and syncing them with music in contemporary form. “It has made me realise that the younger generation does appreciate India’s culture and traditions but becomes passionate about the classical idiom gradually,” she says. She feels the familial oral tradition of India is dying slowly.

The first act of Akhandalaya, ‘The Eternal Rhythm’, depicts the recurring mystery of night and day as well as seasons and planets. The troupe’s movements alternate between fast and slow, set to catchy fusion beats of Hindustani classical, modern and contemporary music.

The second act, ‘Configurations of Rhythm’, has complex patterns expressed through the six yatis: the arrangement of notes and time cycles in different designs and combinations. In the third, ‘Perpetual Rhythm’, Eshwar interprets the unending, sustaining cycle of life—the cyclical journey of water, rain, earth and ocean with the Ganga as the divine allegory. The laya concerns life, hope and joy in the harmonious context of universal rhythm; or the Vedic ‘Ritam’.

For Rukmini Arundale, reinvention was taking Bharatanatyam out of the post-feudal ostracism of the devdasi tradition by bringing refined fabrics and colours to elevate the art form; she was the first mainstream dancer to essay a devdasi role on stage, which horrified critics and audience alike. Eshwar’s reinvention is through technology. But Eshwar uses tech at a basic level, for teaching students abroad by uploading classes, lyrics and answering their questions. She is redefining the guru-shishya parampara thus opening the stage door to new possibilities.


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