Odissi now in 21st century, international avatar

June 1st, 2008 - 6:16 pm ICT by admin  


Kuala Lumpur, June 1 (IANS) Kuala Lumpur is celebrating Odissi, an Indian classical dance form, with Malaysians interpreting it in multi-media formats while retaining its essence. Galeri Petronas, in collaboration with Sutra Dance Theatre, is holding the exhibition called Stirring Odissi in conjunction with the 4th International Stirring Odissi Festival 2008.

The event features 15 visual artists and photographers from Malaysia and India and showcases how different artists interpret the Odissi dance.

Indian exponent Dinanath Pathy said Odissi, performed wherever in whatever form, retains its essence and can be truly international.

Artists who perform it in the US, do so in jeans and crop tops, even dancing half-suspended in a space shuttle. The key to appreciating Odissi is not necessarily dependent on keeping the dance exactly as it is performed in India, said Pathy.

“The essence (of Odissi) is not lost - the dance takes on diverse forms and now has different flavours from being in different countries and places. From this can it become truly international,” the Indian guru was quoted as saying in The Star Sunday.

Pathy found Malaysians “more open to interpreting the old dance form in unusual mixed-media formats”.

“This is obvious in the works of, for example, Sivarajah Natarajan, lighting and set designer for Sutra, who explores the beauty of Odissi dance through both photography and painting, overlaying the two in single installations that capture both the forms and colours of figures and faces.

By comparison, Indians react to this art form in a very “direct way” as it is a very integral part of their culture. Their works thus find expression in more traditional forms.

“Odissi dance is a very old form but recently revived in the 1950s and 60s,” explained Pathy.

“(The) dance takes in the whole culture and the exhibition explores how it has evolved.”

The festival includes a photo exhibition on Odissi of which Pathy is the co-curator. His own paintings are featured in the exhibition - large, brightly coloured pieces with a distinct pop-art feel which force the viewer to see Odissi in a contemporary context, the newspaper noted.

Malaysian-born painter Jeganathan Ramachandram, trained in fine arts and traditional Indian painting, explores in his works the deep-rooted impressions of the subconscious that are related to myths.

Finding its perfect expression in Odissi, Jeganathan’s works in Stirring Odissi are like stories in themselves.

Syed Thajudeen, another Malaysian painter, said: “I am almost in a trance as each precious stone of jewellery is studied and replicated; each bud of jasmine of the headdress meticulously drawn; each finger of the dancer articulated; each ankle bell lovingly arranged. When painting the Odissi dancers, I find myself drawn into their mythical world.”

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