Last night, Zeenee and I attended the premier of Odissi Stirred, a dance performance by Ramli Ibrahim and the Sutra Foundation, designed to give the audience a broad-based points of embarkation in the appreciation of the evolution of present day Odissi which has become one of the most dynamic of the Indian classical dance styles.
There were three sections to the show, Evocations choreographed by Sharmila Biswas, Pallavan by Madhavi Mudgal and Kamala choreographed by Ramli Ibrahim and Guna. Each choreography draws upon and is inspired by the Odissi tradition. Evocations was my favourite and takes us back to its roots from its folk and rural tradition of games and drums. Kamala, the highlight of the day, moves us beyond to the experimental, creating new works with compelling images and messages.
It was a great show overall though Zeenee complained that their show last year was much better. If there was one thing which Odissi Stirred could have done without, it would have been Sharmini Tiruchelvam’s narration. She may be a Diva of yester years but I think that’s where she belongs. Yester Years. Her narration was sadly, just too long! She sounded as if she was trying to hard to remember her script. She just went on and on boring if not the audience, at least me, to death. The show will do better if they were to just shorten her slot. It would not be an overstatement to say that her narrations were as long as the dances. At least it felt that way.
Ramli Ibrahim of course was inspiring as usual. It was great to see the man and his passion for Odissi as well for the Sutra Foundation. We met him after the show thanks to Su. If we have a daughter, she’ll definitely be taking classes from him. Maybe if it’s a boy as well?
For those reading this and don’t know who Ramli Ibrahim is, you must be from some far off land. Accomplished in ballet, modern, and Indian classical dance, Ramli Ibrahim is a cultural icon who has performed internationally for more than three decades. As artistic director of the Sutra Dance Theatre, Ramli has choreographed stunning works and nurtured some of the brightest dance talents from Malaysia. He was instrumental in transforming the dance scenario in Malaysia by boldly charting new paths and single-handedly establishing Odissi as a widely appreciated dance form. has steered a highly successful International Odissi Festival, Stirring Odissi ’08, in Kuala Lumpur; led Sutra at Carnegie Hall, New York ’08 and was most recently featured at the International Dance Festival presented by ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) in New Delhi, 2010.