Sutra Foundation’s Odissi production of Jaya Ram enthralls audiences at KL premiere

Sutra Foundation’s Odissi production of Jaya Ram enthralls audiences at KL premiere

The production, centred on the epic Ramayana, will be going on an international tour after its run in Malaysia

UNDER the expert hands of Malaysia’s dance doyen, Ramli Ibrahim and Gajendra Kumar Panda comes an entirely original Odissi production, which brings to life the myth of Lord Rama, the titular character of the epic, Ramayana. The production opened curtains last night and runs until the 25th of September at KLPAC before it moves on to shows in Melaka, Singapore, and India.

Alongside choreography by Ramli Ibrahim, Jaya Ram features original dance compositions by Gajendra Panda, who is the direct disciple of Debaprasad Das, one of the four first generation of teachers of Indian dance. The production is unique in that while it maintains the format of a traditional Odissi presentation, it also infuses influences from indigenous folk genres in both music and movement.

Revolving around Lord Rama, the work references primarily Ram Leela and Ram Natakam, but also draws inspiration from genres such as Daskathia and Sakhi Nata, traditional forms from the same region. It does not however attempt to replicate the concept of a dance drama or jatra, but stays true to its Odissi format.

The production features pivotal events and episodes from the Ramayana which will immediately be recognisable to audiences.

Jaya Ram thus is the brainchild of two Odissi powerhouses, and a culmination of in-depth research into the folk-dance genres of South Odisha. Distinguished experts from their respective fields were brought on for further consultation on other aspects, including dance, music composition and libretto.

“I recall in the past, whenever organisers requested an Odissi production themed on Lord Rama, we realised that we had a limited repertoire related to the Ramayana. After numerous research trips to South Odisha followed by enthusiastic conceptual discussions, the next step was to consult respected music scholar, Pandit Gopal Panda to further develop the chosen ragas/melodies to suit the Odissi repertoire. The rhythm segments would need the input of mardal specialist, Guru Satchidananda. Both gurus are maestros of Odissi Music in their own right,” Ramli Ibrahim said.

“With the music direction firmly in his grasp, Gajendra came to Malaysia with his principal dancer Dipika to workshop our ideas and findings with Sutra dancers in Kuala Lumpur. We agreed that the choreography of Jaya Ram should not take the path of a dance drama or traditional Jatra, but that of a classical Odissi repertoire. The creative energy was palpable and infectious. We were delighted at the substantial new materials we managed to produce for Jaya Ram,” he added.

His Excellency Shri BN Reddy, the High Commissioner of India to Malaysia, lauded the production and testified that it is a befitting celebration of the 65-year anniversary of the establishment of Malaysia-India diplomatic relations.

“Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, viewed art as an imitation of life. Art has, indeed evolved to represent reality, communicate emotions or ideas, and create a sense of beauty. In modern times, art represents the rich tradition, heritage, and history of a country; and it aids in establishing linkages between the peoples of two countries, thereby enabling them to connect to their roots,” Reddy said.

“Yet again, Padma Shri Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, internationally renowned Odissi as well as Bharatanatyam exponent, brings to life the people-to-people cultural ties between India and Malaysia that have been thriving for a number of centuries, through the Jaya Ram Odissi production.”

source – The Vibes

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