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Dance and philosophy on a stage

Feb 26, 2013, DHNS

Contemporary work

Expressive gestures Rashmi Menon

Dega Arts recently presented ‘Essence of Life’, a music and dance performance inspired by Jiddu Krishnamurti’s teachings, at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall. Combining five different dance forms with existential issues, it brought back to life his simple philosophies for a contemporary and open-minded audience.

The dancers included Pali Chandra (kathak), Masako Ono (odissi), Rashmi Menon (mohiniyattam), Smitha Madhav (bharatanatyam) and Prateeksha Kashi (kuchipudi), while the music was rendered by B Sivaramakrishna Rao and D A Srinivas. Produced by Dega Dev Reddy, who wanted to share Krishnamurthy’s profound teachings about the truths of life with others, the multimedia production began with short pieces on the art of meditation. This part explored various aspects of the subject — from the basics and myths to questioning how awareness comes about and what true silence is.

While Rashmi captured the audience with her expressive gestures and eye movements, the kathak performance was done in total rapture by Pali, which made it enchanting to watch as she whirled and danced around the stage. The same went for the others, each as deserving of praise as the other.


“It’s been really nice. I came here because I’m fascinated by kathak and kuchipudi. But I’m going back as an admirer of all. The concept was interesting and the philosophy was powerful to see as dance,” says Sunita Hemchandran, an audience member.

This was followed by ‘Essence of Life’, where the dancers performed one by one on some aspect of the broader topic for 20 minutes each. Be it the odissi recital on ‘understanding our minds’ or ‘freedom from fear’ depicted through bharatanatyam, the dances evoked familiar emotions in the minds of the viewer, who could relate to what was being shown.

“The dances themselves were great to watch since they mixed contemporary elements with tradition. But what I loved was how each dancer brought her own interpretation of the philosophy forward,” shares Minu, adding that the costumes and production value were also great.

But the most spectacular part of the show was the 15-minute-long thillana, where all the dance forms came together. Each dancer connected with the other, while performing their own style with utmost passion and grace.

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