Apsaras Arts hosts a book launch on “Temple Dance of Apsaras: A Dancer’s View of the Angkor Wat” authored by Mohanapriyan Thavarajah

By Meenakshi Palaniappan

“I’ve always seen my role in the world of Bharatanatyam as that of the ‘Rasika’, and this book is an especial treat for me. After all, I’ve watched lovely productions by Apsaras Arts surrounding Angkor Wat, loving every one of them – Glimpses of Angkor, Angkor- the Untold Story, Anjasa and most recently their virtual production, Amara, based on the bas relief of Banteay Srei. Then, I’ve travelled to Angkor Wat as a university student and marveled at the beauty of the place itself, quietly wandering along the corridors of time in the majestic temple. Finally, above all, I am a Literature student at heart, and books are always my refuge. Mohanapriyan Thavarajah’s book, about a dancer’s journey exploring Angkor Wat, gives me the opportunity to marvel at the timeless in a time of intense change, and I can’t wait to delve right into it,” says Meenakshi Palaniappan regarding the book launch event held on May 14th 2021 at the Asian Civilisation Museum. Read More…

It was a lovely evening to celebrate art and its posterity, in a time of change and uncertainty. Just that afternoon a slew of new guidelines had been announced, requiring us to keep our distance from one another. It was a balm to sit in the auditorium of the Asian Civilisations Museum to witness the launch of a book that sought to close the distance instead, across cultures, space and time. Indeed, as the world reels from the relentless onslaught of a germ, it is precious relief to disappear into the world of architecture and dance, brought to the fore through words and photography, truly no mean effort by dancer-writer Mohanapriyan Thavarajah.

The evening started with a short film relating a dancer’s journey to find out more about Khmer art and dance through the study of the amazing Angkor Wat. It was powerful to hear how the tides of time and art worked to get us to this point, to this lovely book. As I understand it, the journey began in 2013, when Priyan was involved in an Apsaras’ production based on the gorgeous sculptures of Angkor Wat. He was so fascinated he went on to do more research about the connections and pathways through history that led to the construction of this amazing temple and how it stands testimony to the culture and dance of the time. What struck me most about the book was the intricate tapestry woven through history, cultures, mythology, dance and sculpture.

I’ve always seen my role in the world of Bharatanatyam as that of the ‘Rasika’, and this book is an especial treat for me. After all, I’ve watched lovely productions by Apsaras surrounding Angkor Wat, loving every one of them – Glimpses of Angkor, Angkor, the Untold Story, Anjasa and most recently their virtual production, Amara, based on the bas relief of  Banteay Srei. Then, I’ve travelled to Angkor Wat as a university student and marveled at the beauty of the place itself, quietly wandering along the corridors of time in the majestic temple. Finally, above all, I am a Literature student at heart, and books are always my refuge. Priyan’s book, about a dancer’s journey exploring Angkor Wat, gives me the opportunity to marvel at the timeless in a time of intense change, and I can’t wait to delve right into it.

The book launch event, held on May 14th 2021 at the Asian Civilisation Museum, opened with a welcome address by Ambassador Mr K Kesavapany, Chairman of Apsaras Arts, followed by the publisher’s address by Mr Aravinth Kumarasamy, Artistic Director of Apsaras Arts. Guest of Honour, Mr Kenny Ting, Director – Asian Civilisations Museum unveiled the book alongside the author, Thavarajah and publisher, Kumarasamy. The first signed copies of the book were presented to the special guests and partners, Dr Ma Swan Hoo, Board Member, Indian Heritage Centre; Mr Paul Tan, Deputy Director, National Arts Council, H.E Mr P Kumaran – High Commissioner of India to Singapore; Mr David Pandarakannu, Programmer, Esplanade Theatres on the Bay; Mr Rajesh Boddu, whose beautiful photographs are featured in this book. The event, moderated by Ms Seema Hari Kumar, Senior Company Dancer and faculty concluded with a vote of thanks by Ms Vidhya Nair, International Development Director.

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