Odissi with a touch of Malaysia

Does art truly redefine boundaries? For those of you who are still seeking an answer – this Odissi production could change your mind.

Malaysia's Sutra Dance Theatre, led by Ramli Ibrahim performing in Chennai
Malaysia’s Sutra Dance Theatre, led by Ramli Ibrahim performing in Chennai

Presented by the popular Malaysian Odissi dancer – Ramli Ibrahim and his team (The Sutra Dance Theatre) – Ganjam is a compilation of various Indian mythological tales that are deeply rooted in the state of Odisha. The production was staged in Chennai at the Lady Andal School on January 3, 2019.

Worth a cheer or two

The effort involved behind the production (which lasted for about 1.15 hours), was commendable. Not only was it a non-stop presentation of stories but the energy levels of the dancers kept the audiences engaged. The troupe also consisted of people from various age groups.

Malaysia's Sutra Dance Theatre, led by Ramli Ibrahim performing in Chennai
Malaysia’s Sutra Dance Theatre, led by Ramli Ibrahim performing in Chennai

A personal take

The word ‘Odissi’ is synchronous with the performances of Sujata Mohapatra, Aruna Mohanty and more. What is most striking about this art form, apart from its rather charming attire, is the grace and subtlety of various movements. For those of us who have been accustomed to the sounds of various Indian percussion instruments like the maddalam, Mridangam, chenda, pakhawaj, etc., each beat implies a certain movement that is often a combination of a few basic steps combined with a sequence of rhythmic movements.

Malaysia's Sutra Dance Theatre, led by Ramli Ibrahim performing in Chennai
Malaysia’s Sutra Dance Theatre, led by Ramli Ibrahim performing in Chennai

Despite their high levels of energy, the performance lacked a certain rhythm and the subtle power that is quintessential of the art called Odissi.

Then again, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!