Back to where it all began, a round-up of Apsaras Arts this season
In May, after a two year long hiatus, Apsaras Arts returned to India, easily one of its destinations and its Mecca – of sorts – for dance – and tour three Indian cities with Parama Padam, an Apsaras Arts production featuring Principal Dancer and Resident Choreographer of Apsaras Arts, Mohanapriyan Thavarajah.
The excitement began in Mumbai at NCPA (National Centre for Performing Arts) and what an opening it was! The audience in Mumbai responded with curiosity and warmth allowing Parama Padam and its deep philosophy to engulf their senses. This performance also marks a first for Apsaras Arts in Mumbai and Aravinth and Apsaras Arts were honoured to present this show to a full house and wrap the performance with a standing ovation.
“The experience will always remain close to our hearts,” says Aravinth Kumarasamy, speaking of the visit to Mumbai, “We truly loved working with an extremely professional team at NCPA, and with its dance director, Swapnokalpa Dasgupta. This is one of the destinations and venues we will not forget for a long time. We really enjoyed being able to connect with different audiences across age groups and experience levels and a host of eclectic rasikas. The mix was truly invigorating for us as artistes.”
Equally exciting was the possibility to present and share Parama Padam in Chennai. The opportunity to engage with the dance fraternity in Chennai was truly special and Aravinth avers he is very grateful to all the dancers and scholars who took time off their schedules to watch this production and share their valuable feedback on it. “It was a very warm feeling to see everybody in person, connect with them,” says Aravinth.
The Chennai premiere also marked the launch of Mohanapriyan Thavarajah’s book, Temple Dance of Apsaras – A Dancer’s View of Angkor Wat – and to do so in the presence of a host of dancers with Dr Padma Subrahmanyam as its Guest of Honour was truly a privilege. The first copy of the book was received by historian and speaker, Dr Chitra Madhavan.
From Chennai, Parama Padam travelled to Bangalore’s Bangalore International Centre (BIC, for short) and that too happened to be the possibility of Parama Padam premiering at a new venue in the garden city of India. “To present work to an audience which had a mixed demographics – from young dancers and non-dancers and to receive a standing ovation was very exciting,” Aravinth says. “We were very happy to be back in the cosmopolitan city of Bangalore to meet our old friends there and also to make some new friends.”
Before traveling to India, Parama Padam toured Sri Lanka in three cities and was presented yet again in Singapore. “It has been very exciting to travel with this production especially after the pandemic,” Aravinth says, “We first traveled to eight cities in France with it and then to Sri Lanka and Singapore and then India. It has brought back the much-needed positivity and hope and helped us feel the joy of performing dance to a live audience.”
In Bangalore, Team Apsaras Arts, visited two premier dance institutions – Nrityagram and Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, understanding their mission, and watching their ongoing dance rehearsals.
Aravinth also had the opportunity to re-connect with Apsaras Arts’ favourite collaborators, Dr Rajkumar Bharathi and Sai Shravanam, who are both talented artistes in their own right. Together, they are getting ready for a wonderful new work that is set to premiere in November. “Sticking with our interest and enthusiasm on collaborating with South East Asian cultures, countries and traditions, this time we are going to work for the first time with another part of South East Asia exploring another dance and music form,” Aravinth says.
During this visit to Chennai, Apsaras Arts team presented copies of their two publications “TEMPLE DANCE OF APSARAS” authored by Mohanapriyan Thavarajah and “METAMORPHOSIS” compiled by Vidhya Nair to key artistes and institutions – including to Dr Vyjayanthimala Bali, VP Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan, Revathi Ramachandran, Director of Kalakshetra Foundation, Dr S Soumaya Vice Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Dr J Jayalalithaa Music & Fine Arts University.
Icing on the cake was to have The Hindu daily of Chennai, publish a front cover article titled “Tracing the close connection between Indian dance and Southeast Asia – Singapore-based Apsaras Arts is a key partner in this cultural alliance” on the Apsaras Arts initiatives and collaborative works with Southeast Asian artforms in its Friday review section, which was published during this visit to India. This article can be read via https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/tracing-the-close-connection-between-indian-dance-and-southeast-asia/article65463569.ece
Apsaras Arts’ annual highpoint Indian Performing Arts Convention (IPAC) is round-the-corner – September 3-11 in Singapore, September 19-24 in Melbourne, Australia. “This is the first time after the pandemic that we are having an in-person session,” Aravinth says. The event will also have an online edition and showcases a new line-up of performances, lec-dems and webinars. “Most importantly,” Aravinth adds, “we are going to welcome for the first time, legendary artistes for the masterclasses and we are eagerly looking forward to welcoming back our regular faculty members too.”
Registrations for IPAC will open in July . stay tuned!
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