The Singapore Youth Festival, Indian Dance is always a treat to watch with students of the various schools and Junior Colleges of Singapore churning out spectacular dances, from the classical, semi-classical to folk genres in dazzling costumes and impressive choreography. To bring so many students together, and mind you, all students are not Indians, neither are all trained in classical dance, is an admirable feat. This is made possible by hard work put in by various Indian dance teachers of the various schools. This being a highly competitive competition, students and the concerned mentors all rise to the occasion, taking effort and pain to excel.
Interestingly, four of the dance teachers who are handling Indian dance CCAs in some of schools and are responsible for some of the dances put forth by the schools have come together with their friends for this production, Pratyaksha, choreographed by prominent dance exponent AjithBhaskaranDass.
Pratyaksha, brought forth the strength of Goddess Shakti, the creative energy permeating the Universe. The Dance portrayed the power of Goddess Shakti in the five elements earth, water, fire, air and ether (sky). The four dance teachers associated with the schools who danced were ParavathyKarupiah (Selvi), RahiniGanesan,Kamariah Yusuf and SreedevySivarajasingam and the young dancers were SujathaTamilarasan, MenagaSelvarajan and Mathanapriya Naidu.
The teachers Ragini and Selvi had come up with the idea of putting up the production with the intention of exposing students to learning to apply techniques learnt in the classroom to performing Bharathanatyam,and to appreciate our rich heritage through dance performances.
And about the selection of the theme Sreedevy, mentioned, “The project initiators Parvati and Ragini came up with the theme together with Ajith Bhaskar Dass. He then explored and developed the theme. As female dancers, we all identify with Devi in her various forms. It is a befitting theme for us women. And PanchaBhootam, as a concept is prevalent in all cultures”.
Kamariah dancer, choreographer, teacher also in charge of some of the logistics in the production had this to say to my queries…
Since the four of you are very good choreographers yourselves as I love your SYF productions why did you go for an external choreographer in Ajith?
The reason why we chose an external choreographer was largely to challenge ourselves. We are very used to each other’s choreography and wanted to expose ourselves toAjith’s intricate choreography and style.
I understand that four of you are handling Indian Dance in various schools why did you not rope in more of such dance tutors in this production and male dancers?
When doing a production, it is important that the people in this production are of the same frequency. The great thing about the cast of Pratyaksha is that we are all good friends with similar expectations which makes compromise and accommodation of expectations much easier. We did have a male dancer initially; however he had other commitments to attend to.
Who has done the music and lyrics for the production?
For three of the items it was done by Mr V Balakrishnan of Bharathaanjali, Singapore
Did you all share your ideas in the choreography/music/theme or was it exclusively Ajith's?
We told him our expectations of the subject matter but the choreography and music was all his work.
How many schools do each of you handle. How many productions/items/schools in SYF do you put up each time?
Each of us handle an average of about 5 schools. On top of our SYF commitments, our schools put up at least 5-6 performances annually.
The dance was supported by an excellent live orchestra, Nattuvangam by AjithBhaskaranDass,Lavanya Ramesh (vocal),PaskaranSreekaram( mridangam) , ManikantanGurunathan (violin) and RaghavendraRajesekaran ( flute).
Pratyakshawas presented by Prime Arts at Singapore Polytechnic Convention Centre on 31st of August.