Ajith Bhaskaran Dass and his group of dancers from the Suvarna Dance Company presented the “Ujjwala- Awakening of the Inner Flame” at Dewan Tuanku Abdul Rahman Auditorium in Malaysia Tourist Centre, KL on Aug 30th . Ajith has an impressive lineage of Gurus including Smt Bhanaumathi Krishnan, Smt. Shanta Ponnudurai, Ramli Ibrahim, Smt. Shantha Bhaskar, Adyar.K. Lakshmanan, Guru Gajendar Kumar panda, Sri. Dhananjayan and Smt. Shantha Dhanajayan. He is the artistic Director of Suvarana Fine Arts ansd has performed extensively all over SE asia, Indai, USA, Canada and Europe. he has worked with several internationally renowned dancers .. Dhananjayans(Sangamitra), Lakshmi Viswanathan( Caturanga and Banyan Tree), Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar (Pancha Mahabootha) and Padma Subrahmanyam(Ritu Mahatmayam). he has an impressive repertoire of professional productions and artistic collaborations both in Malaysia and abroad. He regulary conducts workshops and lecture demonstrations.
The program was scheduled to begin at 7.30pm but started at 8.00pm. It was a ticketed program and there were people who had brought in the tickets and waiting at the lobby. Quite an encouraging sign for artists in KL isn’t it?
Their brochure describes Ujjwala as “a dance feature which explores the element FIRE in its various representations. This dance work attempts to translate into movement and mood, not only the physical nature of fire but also explores the intrinsic nature of this element through human emotions and psychological states.”
The Program itself was divided into 5 sections
Part 1: Aditya Agni- Eternal Flame
Using verses from the Aditya Hridayam and Agni Suktham this piece was conceived as a salutation to the Surya Bhagawan. The strength of group choreography was utilised here to show the eternal flame…
Part 2: Joothisvaroopini- Cosmic Effulgence
This segment presented a new varnam written by Shri.V. Balakrishnun (Bharathaanjali, Singapore). I was told that this was the first time the varnam was being performed. The piece has been musically composed by Sri T.S. Lazar in Ragamalika( Some very rare ragas like Jothisvaroopini, priyadarshini, Bindumalini there). This varanam depicts the Goddess Shakthi as jwalamalini and Jwalamukhi, the inferno of cosmic energy. (Devi closing Shiva’s eyes, birth of Meenakshi and Muruga and the destruction of Bandasura were some of the episodes covered in this composition).
Though I don’t want to get into reviewing any of the performances I attend, it would be unfair if I didn’t mention that this piece was embellished some very well rehearsed and synchronised movement s (The showing of the Arumugam- almost as synchronized as the a few Chinese group dances that I always thought was almost a miracle). Jathis as in a few present choreographies, had some special “sollus” incorporated into it. I recall these- “Ujjwala” and “Natanam” built into the jathis. The presentation was at a very brisk pace and the choreography had taken into consideration the demands on physical stamina of the dancers and Ajith definitely deserves a mention for all the homework he has done. Ajith had some quick costume changes here. (Did he manage 3 during the varnam?). Some wonderful Gudhitamettis there. During the tattimettis, I noticed the alternate use of samam and usi eduppus.
There was a 20 minute interval after this and I want to tell you there wasn’t an exodus. Rasikas here don’t seem to mind commuting late. This is my second performance here at KL. I had watched people leave during Sheejith’s Rama Charitham at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai. Just sayingL The loss wasn’t Sheejith’s thoughJ
The Post Interval session presented 3 segments…
Part 3: Kamagni-Burning desire.
It was as they described it, “a sensuous conversation of love” to Bharathiyar’s “Vennaiadi nee yenakku”. This piece was musically composed by Shri Deepu Nair, Chennai.
Part 4: “Krodha Jwala”- Fire of Fury saw Panchali Sapatham being used to portray the Draupadi vastrabhaharanam and her wrath and fury and her vow to destroy the Kauravas. The piece had the dayakattum playing and Ajith was the Shakuni and Draupadi. Sollukattus were used every time the dice was rolled. There was one Kantam sequence that I immensely enjoyed. This brought back memories of the Panchali Shapadam by Smt. Chitra Visweswaran (Well I am thinking of her all the time so it is bound to happen!:)
Part 5: The finale… “Ujjwala”, the final awakening of the inner light of spirituality used traditional sufi poetry musically composed by Rajesh Vaidya and T.S. lazar.
· Nattuvangum: Smt. Usha Ramachandran (daughter of Guruvayoor Durai and artistic director of Laasya Fine Arts). Reminds me of Smt. Indira rajan , her Guru (and incidentally one of my Gurus) in her Nattuvangum style.
· Vocal: Smt. Bhavani Logeswaran
· Mridangam: Shri.T. Ramanan
· Violin: Shri.T.S.Lazar
· Flute: Shri.G. Nataraj
· Percussionist: Shri Theban Arumugam
· Guest artistes:
o Khairul Shahrin from Maya dance Theatre, Singapore. Khairul is trained in quite a few contemporary and modern dance styles apart from Bharathanatyam and Balinese Dance Forms.
o Meena Kumaree trained in Kalakshetra Style, was the narrator for the Ujjwala. Did I tell you that the show had a narrator (who didn’t stand behind the scenes). She introduced the pieces (in English) and with her excellent diction and theatrical skills providing a setting for the upcoming scene.
Overheard Ajith saying “ While I do focus on the aspect of story telling, I have to convince myself of the story being told”. Also I saw him walk up to the musicians and thank them personally. (when the audience left after the formal curtain call) . Good signs again! Yes yes I di see Mavin Khoo there… I have a few pictures will soon upload them for you..