Saturday, June 28, 2014

AIM FOR SEVA raises $ 140 K in Houston through MEGHADOOTAM 2014!  - The dance1 - The dance2 - The dance3 - The music
In the words of Bombay Jayashri ...
Article from The Hindu,  The Indian Express,  The Hindu,  The Hindu (again)
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Photos from Houston event on Saturday, September 6, 2014 are here!

Meghadootam transcends Cloud Nine

Seshadri Kumar
• India Herlad - Wed, Sep 24, 2014
Kalidasa, the poet of all poets, wrote Meghadootam, centuries ago. It was a love letter from a man separated and far away from his wife.

Meghadootam, the cloud messenger passed through the Houston area and made a short stop at Stafford Center on Sept. 6.

The All India Movement for Sewa, an integrated community development program reaching out to rural and tribal children across 15 Indian states, founded by Swami Dayananda Saraswati of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, presented the classic as a fundraiser.

The Cleveland Cultural Alliance produced the ballet, with music by Bombay Jayashri Ramnath, while Shijith Nambiar and Parvathy Menon provided the script and choreography.

The very title, Meghadootam, triggers one’s imagination in this age of “Cloud computing” as if Kalidasa had presaged the use of clouds as a mode of communication. The poet’s imagination seems to have aptly portended the futuristic science.

Leaving the science apart, how the clouds, constantly moving, fickle phenomenon of nature, can be captured on stage by humans and captivate the audience is a valid question.

Kalidasa’s unparalleled poetic prowess and his lyrics imbued with thoughts and emotions, of the plants, the animals and the humans, already accomplished this ardent task, but how the artists would depict the clouds remained an enigma, until they actually did it.

A Yaksha, a divine attendant, displeases his master, Kubera, and he is exiled to the wild forests of central India. As the Yaksha pines for his wife, who remains in Alaka, their home in the mountains, he could have used a smart pone, landline, Internet, even a pony express or a dove to send his message, but he could not as the gadgets were non-existent in the age of Kalidasa. That did not deter the poet. He calls upon the cloud to carry the message.

Kalidasa’s love-lorn hero transcends the emotions of love and describes the nature, the landscape that the cloud would traverse in its journey, day and night.

The persistent imagery and the protagonist of the play, the cloud, could we say, stole the thunder, as the artists recreated the clouds in a myriad veils, waving and weaving all over the stage, and with the dynamic artists up and down the landscape.

The deliberate use of silky, white veils symbolized the clouds in abundance and convincingly so. Should you feel that the veils were overwhelming or used in excess, maybe the imagery of cloud, clouded your imagination. The artists may be allowed this stage excess as a poetic license.

The supple vines of the lady love, the glances compared to a startled doe, the tresses similar to the peacock’s plumage, the ripples of water and the fallen dried leaves in the river Sindhu, resembling the emaciated form of the Yakshi, later the swans dancing in the rain, flowers blooming and rejoicing, city dwellers performing Siva Pooja in a celebration, the clouds forming a rainbow after the rain and inviting the peacocks and deers in the forest to dance, and finally, the two souls uniting, at least in the imagination of the Yaksha, through the clouds as love sustained their souls, the cloud completed its task successfully as a messenger.

It was a dramatic challenge to depict the swans, peacocks, deers, blooming flowers and so on, and the dancers ably did it all.

Shijith Nambiar and Pavithra Srinivasan as the lead dancers lifted the whole performance to great heights, wherever the cloud could reach, including “cloud nine.”