The culmination of romantic love leads to marriage – that’s what fairy tales tell us, and dreamers want to believe.
But, the road to matrimony isn’t always smooth.
Kalpana Dance Theatre (KDT) is looking to shine a light on this subject.
KDT in collaboration with Jabatan Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Negeri Perak and Ipoh Fine Arts Society will present Samyoga: The Divine Union on Jan 12 in Ipoh, Perak.
The production was first staged here in 2017 and following its success, is being restaged with some modifications.
Matrimony was chosen as the theme for this bharatanatyam offering due to many reasons, according to choreographer P.T.Narendran.
“As a bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer and teacher for the last four decades, I have always been imparting my knowledge of Indian culture, tradition and humanity as a composite whole,” says Narendran.
“Bharatanatyam is not only a performing art; it has far greater values of philosophy of life and human psychology. Indian mythological stories have a vital role in this art form. From young I have asked myself if Indian mythological stories were relevant in today’s world, and the answer is yes. That was when the theme of matrimony triggered in my mind. I shared my thoughts with Shangita Namasivayam, the artistic director of KDT, and after much brain storming and discussion with the script writer Dr Va Ve Subramaniam, Samyoga: The Divine Union was born,” he adds.
Shangita and Narendran are both graduates of the dance school of Kalakshetra in India, known as the Ivy League Institution of Indian classical dance. Their common passion for bharatanatyam has resulted in plenty of original works.
The repertoire this time will comprise four episodes compared to five in the last production. Each episode presents a marriage with a different plot and storyline.
It is interesting to note that each of these marriages are addressed by the heroine – Meenakshi Kalyanam, Sita Swayamvaram, Rukmini Kalyanam and Valli Thirumanam, which reveals that they are strong women.Shangita says, “All our Indian myths have been written by great saints like Valmiki, Vyasa and Kambar. In Hinduism, the Jeevathma (individual soul) seeking to be united with the Paramathma (supreme) is the ultimate aim. In the chosen stories, the heroines are all born on earth and seek to be united with the divine. “I personally think women of those times were extremely powerful and strong both mentally and physically. None of these women we are portraying in this production are coy, shy or submissive, yet they were highly respected. It is only in India that earth is referred to as Mother and women are worshipped.”
Every production comes with its set of challenges and Samyoga is no different.
“We are portraying four Hindu marriages – how do we make each wedding ceremony look different? As we have many rituals and each state in India has its unique wedding ceremony, we drew our inspirations from them. Once the concept was established, the choreography fell into place,” says Narendran.
Samyoga will be presented using the Kalakshetra aesthetics. There will also be a storyteller who will link each marriage by explaining each episode.
The one-night performance will showcase a cast of 20 dancers, five of whom are male. They will be supported by a live orchestra comprising composer K. Hariprasad on vocals, Vedakrishnaram on mirdangam and Achuthan Sasidharan Nair on the violin.
Samyoga: The Divine Union will take place at 8pm on Jan 12 at the JKKN Auditorium, Jabatan Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Negeri Perak, Kompleks Taman Budaya, Lot 20561, Jalan Cardwell, off Jalan Raja Di Hilir, Ipoh, Perak. For tickets, call 016-527 2959, 016-532 1087, 012-526 9239 or 012-524 0104.