Bangaloreans were in for a treat at ‘Essence of Life’, a revolutionary dance performance held at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall recently.
The production had performances by Smitha Madhav (bharatanatyam), Rashmi Menon (mohiniyattam), Achutamanasa (kathak), Masaka Ono (odissi) and Prateeksha Kashi (kuchipudi). Singers Hariharan and Sanjeev Abhyankar lent their voices to the compositions.
The performance addressed some significant questions. How do we respond to a world beset with problems of violence, religious divides, fear, unrest, breakdown of relationships and degradation of our planet? The artistes portrayed the teachings of renowned philosopher J Krishnamurti, which are meant to bring about a transformation in life. The programme, which was divided into three sequences, included ‘The Art of Meditation’, ‘Essence of Life’ and concluded with ‘Freedom from the Self’.
Rashmi Menon, a dancer from Kerala, who performed a mohiniyattam piece, felt that audiences are looking for new concepts these days. “I personally feel that this concept is different from other regular productions. We are here to pass on strong messages through our performances. And the best way to do that is through dance and music,” she said, adding that they were elated with the response they’ve got during previous performances.
Achutamanasa A, a dancer from Hyderabad, said, “Bangalore is opening up to dance in a big way. In fact, the City would stand second after Chennai for opportunities in art and culture.” Elaborating on the importance of meditation, which she depicted during her performance, Achutamanasa explained that one can meditate only when the mind is empty. “I have depicted my feelings. For instance, I am portraying beauty of love, which I feel can curb negative aspects in the world,” she added.
Dega Dev Kumar Reddy, founder of Dega Arts, which organised the programme, is deeply influenced by J Krishnamurti’s teachings and wanted to convey them through a medium that could explore these existential crises.
Explaining that the production was an attempt to explore vital human problems though ancient dance forms and music, Dega Dev Kumar Reddy said, “The musical compositions speak of various humans problems that we experience in our lives.”
The audience was a spellbound lot. Considering the programme to be a refreshing change, Sudha Rao, a member of the audience, said, “I've always been interested in dance. It’s good to watch different kinds of performances. I found the messages powerful. I’m looking forward to more such performances.”
Mamatha, another member of the audience, said that the performance helped her calm down. “At the end of the performance, I felt really calm. The dance programme was stunning. I really hope to see meaningful performances like this,” she added.