‘Spellbound’ to return with fresh talents


(From left) Ramli and the young dancers who are part of ‘Spellbound Odissi’, which will be restaged on Sept 4. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

SUTRA Foundation is restaging Spellbound Odissi but this time the production will feature young dancers from its outreach programme.

With artistic direction by Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, Spellbound is one of Sutra’s most successful international productions of Odissi that premiered in 2005 at Istana Budaya.

The restaging will be held for one night only on Sept 4 at 8.30pm at Shantanand Auditorium in Temple of Fine Arts, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

During its premiere season in Malaysia, Spellbound captured two Boh Cameronian Awards for Best Direction (under Ramli) and Best Set Design by Sutra’s Sivarajah Natarajan.

As part of Sutra’s World Tour 2006, Spellbound was also presented at Carnegie Hall in New York City, Toronto, Paris, Windsor and Zurich.

Ramil said the Sutra Dance Outreach Programme started in 2013.

The intention was to offer opportunities to children and teenagers (ages six to 15) to benefit from formal training in dance.

“Our main objective is to provide the best teaching methods and early exposure to the exciting and creative world of Indian dance.

“Simultaneously, Sutra is also keen to discover new dance talents outside Kuala Lumpur to continue the legacy of our next generation of dancers,” he said during an interview at Sutra Foundation in Kuala Lumpur.

Ramli (standing second from right)  at the presentation of ‘Spellbound Odissi’ at Carnegie Hall, New York City, in 2006.  —Photo courtesy of Jay MandalRamli (standing second from right) at the presentation of ‘Spellbound Odissi’ at Carnegie Hall, New York City, in 2006. —Photo courtesy of Jay Mandal

The 13 young dancers in Spellbound were chosen from Kajang, Rawang, Ladang Sungai Choh and Kuala Selangor.

They include Dhevakumaran Mathevan, 16, Kirthana Sukumaran, 14, Aiswaryaa Errisson, 13, Deepa Jayabalan, 14, and Hareen Loganathan, 16.

“We wanted to reach out to Indian communities outside Kuala Lumpur.

“It is not like these youths are less privileged, but to a certain extent they are less exposed to better teachers and classes.

“If they cannot afford classes, they can get a scholarship from Sutra,” said Ramli, adding that auditions were mostly carried out at Tamil schools and temples in these areas to find the best dancers.

“I wanted a strong pool of talent who were temperamentally right. You cannot teach or learn dancing if you are not inclined.

“To make the children dance Odissi was difficult. They have to go through movement classes and body conditioning before doing the proper dance,” said Ramli.

He called the outreach programme Ground Zero, as the students did not have any experience in dance, and the challenge was to empower them through a dance discipline that was attractive and challenging to unleash their creative potential.

“We needed to also convince their parents about the positive outcomes of sending their children for training,” he said.

Dhevakumaran from Kajang, who has been dancing for six years, said he was grateful for the exposure to Odissi.

“It builds our character and teaches us discipline,” he said.

Kirthana said performing had made her overcome stage fright.

Hareen’s mother, Poongkodi Amasi, said she was excited to see her son perform next month.

“I am so thrilled because he has been very interested in learning Odissi ever since we attended the Krishna Love Reinvented dance performance at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) in 2014.

“I know he is in safe hands, and I love watching him pursue his passion,” she added.

Entrance to the performance is by donation.

For details, call 03-4021 1092 or visit sutrafoundation.org.my

Sutra Foundation

   

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