Time After Time
Dancer-choreographer Raka Maitra spent many months excavating the essence of Odissi, one of the eight forms of classical Indian dance, and Boundaries ... Dreams ... Beyond is a mature realisation of this effort.
It was clear from the start, however, that Maitra was not working alone.
Chan Man Loon, a multimedia artist, projected abstract images onto the
stage floor in a precise square that filled most of the space. The swirls
and lines of colour provided a moving image that enhanced the dance
to such an extent that it would be hard to imagine it succeeding so
well without it. Backed up by tight and effective lighting by Tommy
Wong, Boundaries was a slick, polished performance.
Odissi relies on clean lines of the arms, and every position emanates
from a square stance with the feet wide apart and the knees bent. The
dancer moves in a two-dimensional plane, recalling the dancing figures
on ancient temple friezes.
From this point on we were transported into the realm of contemporary Indian dance. Maitra moved freely and succeeded in developing a new movement vocabulary that had grown from the traditional roots that bound the first section. As she "felt" the rain touch parts of her body, she moved fluidly and the dynamics shifted from the previously controlled, measured pace. She spun, waved her arms, used diagonal directions and filled the space as she leapt in delight and fell to the floor.
A spotlight lit a small square at the centre of the stage, and the dance concluded as she tentatively made her way into this square. At first she discovered this new light with some traditional hand gestures; then her face and whole body filled the square, and the dance ended. It was poetic and reflective on many levels - from the mesmerising progression of controlled steps to free movement, to the overall concept and the unity of the images captured by the collaborators in this production.
Maitra did not take the applause she deserved because a short theatre piece called The Blind Age, featuring performers Sreejith Ramanan and Sajeev Purushothama, immediately followed her exit from the stage. Though she appeared in it briefly at the end, it did not relate to her own performance. Age had some good ideas but really, had no place in this evening of dance.
Boundaries was a significant departure from classical Indian dance and shows why Maitra is involved in charting contemporary Indian dance in Singapore through events such as the Grey Festival. The complexity of this production may not seem a big step, but to those versed in Odissi and other classical Indian forms, Boundaries marked a giant leap for Maitra.
Ratings out of 5, based on
Practitioner's Vision / Reviewer's Response: ***** = Transcendent /