Dancing amidst violence, beyond confines of forms

  • Harjeet Inder Singh Sahi, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Nov 22, 2015 14:56 IST
(L-R): Scriptwriter Oindrilla Dutt, dancer Prasanna Saikia, choreographer Mitul Sengupta, dancers Yorma Loringett and Viviana Salvo, and choreographer Ronnie Shambik Ghose (Gurpreet Singh/HT Photo )

A synthesis of kathak, western dance forms and Tchaikovsky’s musical score requires courageous ingenuity and experimentation. Cultural collaborations between organisations are common but a weaving together of Buddha, ‘Mahabharata’, Tchaikovsky and dance makes one gape in wonder.

A troupe of Indo European dancers Prasanna Saikia, Viviana Salvo, Yorma Loringett accompanied by director Gianin Loringett, choreographers Mitul Sengupta, Ronnie Shambik Ghose and scriptwriter Oindrilla Dutt are touring Alliance Française institutes in various Indian cities.

The troupe performed ‘Buddha: The Why Within’ and excerpts from ‘Swan Lake Revisited’ at Tagore Theatre, Chandigarh, on Wednesday evening.

Devdutt Pattanaik’s books on mythology influenced the mixture seen in the dance performances. There are three minor characters in the ‘Mahabharata’ that exemplify Buddha’s teachings and bring out different psychological perspectives.

“Ulupi, one of Arjuna’s wives, was abandoned by him. She represents disappointment of expectations and aspirations. Aravak was born out of their one-night union and sacrificed himself for his father’s victory in the Kurukshetra war. Krishna granted his last wish by transforming into a woman named Mohini and spending a night with him. Transgenders celebrate this union at the Koovagam festival. Barbareek’s head was placed at the top of a mountain during the war and he witnessed everything. He represents our inner self, the collective human consciousness,” says Mitul.

‘Buddha: The Why Within’ questions our unceasing quests and desires. It is only self-realisation that can wean the world away from mindless desires and unstoppable violence.

“The performance is about internalisation of Buddha’s teachings and an understanding of the versatility of classical dance forms,” says Ronnie.

The Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan, tall stone statues of Buddha in Afghanistan, in 2001 and the extremist militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) destroyed heritage sites at Palmyra in Syria in 2015.

Oindrilla says, “Those who perpetrate violence like the destruction of Buddhas of Bamiyan obviously do not understand Buddha, a man of peace. They are indulging in violence for power and for serving themselves, rather than for religion.”

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