MAHAKAVI the press play button

MAHAKAVI by Asthana Arts
17th April 2010, Auditorium Taman Budaya, Kuala Lumpur

Mahakavi was a production based on the Bharati (a poet) from India and his works. His poet compositions helped rally the masses to support the Indian independence movement in South India.

After India’s independence, many of Bharati’s poems were adapted into songs as lyrics in many Tamil cinema numbers. Some of it was also sung in individual album. This current genre of music by using the poems was the music used in this production.

The show consists of dance and poem recitals or perhaps readings. There were nine dance pieces in between the narrations and the poem recitals. All the nine dance pieces were very interesting yet have wonderful glimpse of narrating the inner meanings of each poems. This shows the deep thought and understandings of the choreographers and performers.

The show started with the scene showing the death of the poet. Having dancers in all white carrying a corpse was an emotional sight. This piece became an entry point to further know about the contribution of the great poet.

Adjacent to the first piece, there was two other dance pieces which caught attention. “Sutrum Vizhi Chudar” and “Panchali Sabatham”. The poem Sutrum Vizhi Chudar which was adapted to a beautifully sung song was danced by two well trained dancers. The duet showed the mastering of rhythm and expression fused with some modern dance vocabularies. The merge of the beautiful song and the dance elevated the piece to an ethereal state. I would rank this as the best dance piece of the night.

The other was the Panchali Sabatham which was danced by five male and one female dancer. The story of a king whom looses his kingdom including his wife in gambling was cleverly choreographed using mainly expressions along with some simple movements. Although, there were no unisons movements, the piece was interesting as the legendary story was conveyed in a rare execution. Two thumbs up to the dancer played the character of the Saguni.  

All dance pieces in the showcase be it classical, fusion or contemporary was at its best.

However, I was perplexed between poem recitals and poem readings as the three artists whom were on stage to recite the poems read the poems from a Q-card they all hold in their hand. This was noticeable by the audience thus failed to deliver the emotion content and flow of the poems. Memorizing the poems in advance would be a wiser act.

Besides that, the poem readings botched to gel and merge with the dances. Therefore it was seen as two different elements in the showcase performed one after the other. More attentions should be given to the transitions between the dance pieces and the poems.

The show sidetracked after the final piece of the night when there was a speech by the honorary guest of the showcase. The objective of the production diverted further when there was some political remarks content of the speech. None of the audience expected that sort of a finale piece, I guess. Although there were some production’s commentary, it would be wiser if those sorts of notes were given only to the casts and members of the production rather than to the public. May be the speech was part of the protocol. Guess, that’s what politic is all about, huh?

In general, the showcase had some mind-blowing dance pieces danced by fine dancers which I think have potentials of standing on its own without the poem recitals (or readings). This showcase reflected the enrichment of the performing arts scene in the country. I’m seeing Asthana Arts moving towards the right path, keep it up.

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