On 4th November 2020, Aravinth Kumarasamy gave an hour-long mesmerising talk on Banteay Srei, the Khmer temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia that inspired Apsaras Arts upcoming production – “Amara – Dancing stories of Banteay Srei” which premieres on Friday 20th November 2020 8pm as part of Kalaa Utsavam, Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay’s annual Indian festival of arts. This production will be available digitally till 29th November 2020 1159pm via tickets purchased on SISTIC: Click here
In the talk, Aravinth detailed the historical context of this unique temple – Banteay Srei and how it came to be created in the 10th century by the Khmer kingdom. He also drew connections to the many stories carved in the bas reliefs derived from ancient Hindu texts of the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Puranas. He provided his perspective on how these stories have been interpreted within Cambodian society and how French archaeologists rediscovered this temple in the 19th century and its significance among the pantheon of Khmer architecture. He also shared how “Amara” came to be inspired by these carvings, the movements within the architecture and the visual feast of dance performed by the many characters featured including Shiva, Parvati, Ravana, Yoginis, Apsaras and the interpretations intended by the Khmer sculptors.
FOM members who are active docents at Singapore museums and enthusiasts of history & heritage engaged in many inquisitive questions. They appreciated Aravinth’s artistic impressions and asked questions on how the sculptures can be conveyed through classical dance. Many spoke of their trips to Siem Reap to see the famed UNESCO heritage site, Angkor Wat but spoke of a much needed revisit revisit in light of this talk to this more obscure but jewelled temple of pink stone. An engaging session that helped bring excitement to the upcoming launch of Amara.