The land of jewels is burning

Oct 11, 2011, 07:54 IST | Surekha S
The political unrest in Manipur has inspired dancers from the northeastern state to reflect upon the society through their performance. The contemporary Manipur recital is part of NCPA's Nakshatra Dance Festival

Drawing parallels from the game of dice played by the Pandavas and Kauravas in the Mahabharata, Priti Patel and her dance group will take you through the current political and social unrest in the state on Manipur.
The traditional dance forms of Manipur will spread the message of peace not just through Raas Leela and the feminine elements of the Manipuri dance, but also through mind-boggling acts performed by dynamic male dancers as part of the traditional martial arts repertoire.

The Throw of Dice by Priti Patel and group draws inspiration
from the social and political unrest in Manipur

The performance titled The Throw of Dice will mark the beginning of the Nakshatra Dance Festival at the NCPA on Thursday.

The Manipuri performance will be followed by a Kudiyattam (a traditional Sanskrit theatre art form from Kerala) performance by Margi Madhu and the festival will conclude with a contemporary dance performance based on Kathak by Aditi Mangaldas and company.

Manipuri Mahabharata
Manipuri is one of the very few Indian classical dances, which is still performed in temples. Perhaps that is one of the reasons it has not seen much modernisation.
"It is a very ancient form of dance and it has been sustained through the rituals," says Priti Patel, who has been learning Manipuri since 1972.

"The traditional instruments are still used with it be it the 1,000-year-old Pena (an instrument like the ektara), langdengpung (a kind of ancient drum) or the kartal or cymbal," adds Priti.

Martial arts and drum dances, which are part of the traditions of Manipur, will accompany the dance performance in telling the story of Manipur.

"Many of my co-artists are from Manipur, which is currently in a state of unrest. We decided that we need to tell the story about the present-day situation there," says Priti.

"The game played in the Mahaharata led to the war. Similarly there are political games being played in our society, which lead to war-like situations.
We are portraying this symbolically through our performance with the hope of spreading the message of peace," she adds.

Lovelorn Ravana
As Ravana kidnaps Sita, he is mesmerised by her beauty. Struck by cupid's arrows, he is unable even to bear the moon's rays as they seem to scorch him.
Describing a scene from his performance Margi says, "When the moon is proud of its effect on Ravana, the king tells him that is it not his power that is doing this to him, but the power of Sita's beauty."

Kudiyattam performance by Margi Madhu

Margi will enact this scene from Shaktibhadra's Ascharya Choodamani in his solo act titled Himakaram.

Kudiyattam is an art form from Kerala that dates back to thousands of years and Margi has been associated with it from a very young age. Bright costumes and loud make-up makes this a very captivating dance form.

Exploring timelessness
Is time an eternal flow or is it stagnant? Mangaldas will explore the subject through her contemporary dance based on Kathak titled, Timeless.

"We are trying to answer a set of questions on what is time," says Aditi Mangaldas in an attempt to explain her performance.
The troupe will explore the different ideas and philosophies of time and try and figure out if time is reversible.

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