Poetry in motion
Malavika Mohanan's dance-poetry and her articulate interpretation caught the imagination of the audience.
Malavika's ingenuity as a choreographer was evident when she merged the steps of the Indian classical dance to the flamenco.
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR: Malavika Mohanan.
For 42 minutes, a hurriedly gathered group of art lovers stayed mesmerised as Malavika Mohanan presented `Navashwaasam' (new breath) at Galilee Auditorium, Thrissur. Conceived and choreographed by her, the performance could rightly be described as dance-poetry. Malavika is a adancer, director, choreographer and a poet. A graduate in theatre from Stanford University, California, and a Bharatanatyam dancer, her multi-disciplinary background and rare sensibility towards social issues have made her creations noteworthy and `Navashwaasam' is the latest.
The inspiration for the choreography and its title is the Argentinean poem `Nuevas Respiraciones' by Roberto Juarroz. In his poem, Juarroz exhorts the humanity to "invent new breaths that not only consume air but also enrich it." The dual meaning of nava in Sanskrit, namely new and nine, is analogous to the identity between the Spanish words nuevo (new) and nueve (nine). Therefore, even as she has divided the production into nine sections (breaths), Malavika argues that it is essentially `new' as well.
The performance began with the artiste entering the stage after walking through the aisle while and also reading from a book. The first passage quoted from `Women in Praise of the Sacred' extolled those women "who broke with convention, who ignored cultural and religious taboo, who could not be held back from their chosen paths of life and spiritual practice." That she had imbibed the message of the lines was evident from her explanation. The second was Juarroz's poem itself.
The third part was an invocation in Sanskrit, sarvesaam swastir bhavanthu.... Mudras and postures were introduced in this section. Malavika called the next part a `dance morph.' The few basic adavus it entailed were remarkable for their exceptionable anga-suddha and the mudras associated with them exuded an unusual charm. Malavika's choreographic ingenuity was evident from the way she could merge the steps of the Indian classical dance to the vigorous movements of the flamenco.
The longest of the nine pieces was the delineation of Emmanuel Ortiz's poem, `A Moment of Silence.' The poet begins by asking for a moment of silence in honour of those who died in the tragedy of 9/11. But then he also asks for hours, days, months and years of silence for those who were brutally murdered by the imperialist regimes the world over, especially by the United States and its allies. Malavika's interpretation of the long poem through techniques of mime was captivating. One could discern poetry in motion as aangika and vaachika abhinaya combined in an alluring manner.
Malavika's own poems `Go to Sleep Little Boy,' `This Child and Three Pound Universe,' also presented employing the same technique, bore ample testimony to her literary sensibility. But more than that, they highlighted her angst over the sufferings of children who are the victims of war crimes.
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