If you thought that Delhiites were all about rock and pop culture, you are in for a surprise. The emerging trend of ballets based on mythological characters tells a different story. “The 80s did see a lull in live classical performances because of television and multiplexes but the last 2-3 years have seen a revival of interest in these forms especially ballet. The thrill of seeing a mythological story come alive on stage is unparallel,” says Radhika Hoon, Chairperson, Natya Ballet Centre.
The Natya Ballet Centre is organising the ballet, Draupadi — The Indomitable Spirit, today at Shri Ram Centre. “Characters like Draupadi are still very relevant to the society. Her struggle of being married according to her father’s choice and none of them coming to her rescue during the cheer haran scene is something that still rings a bell with most women,” says Nibedita Mahapatra, the choreographer.
Classical dancer and actor Shivani Wazir Pasrich agrees with the strong appeal of mythological characters but with a contemporary twist. “My last ballet, Draupadi — Will my Spirit Live on? had a contemporary twist to the story with Draupadi mentoring Maya — a new age woman to choose the path of resilience instead of revenge,” says Pasrich. Her new ballet — I am the Tiger — emphasises wildlife conservation with a story based on Durga and Lord Shiva.
Strength of a story
“Indian mythological stories are much more relevant than Greek or Italian stories. The characters are much stronger and universally relevant even today,” says Gopal Sharman, who’s adaptation of Ramayana has been performed at international platforms like Broadway for the last 40 years. “When I decided to organise a performance of Ramayana in Delhi last year, I was not sure if it would interest the young generation. But, to my surprise, they liked it and took keen interest in playing the characters,” says Jalabala Vaidya, founder director, Akshara Theatre group. “It is surprising to see a lot of young people come for these shows and cheer enthusiastically,” says Hoon. “Though traditionally a ballet would go on for 2-3 hours during the 60s, we have now tried to shorten them to 60 minutes keeping the changing tastes of the audience in mind,” she adds.