City accepting of all dance forms: Ramli

Malaysian dance pioneer Datuk Ramli Ibrahim was in Bengaluru recently.

Malaysian dance pioneer Datuk Ramli Ibrahim shatters all stereotypes. After spending 40 years exploring bharathnatyam and odissi dance forms and excelling as a rigorous classical dance trainer, the 65-year-old was honoured with a Padma Shri this year. 

He says his mission is to take classical dance forms to as many youngsters as possible, especially the underprivileged.
Ramli, who was in Bengaluru to perform at Asmi, a festival of dance and music hosted by Anandi Arts Foundation, says the secret to looking young is to stay positive.
In an interview with Nina C George, Ramli talks about dance and more.   

When did you realise that dance was your true calling?

I began very young. I followed my bliss and followed my artistic inclination and I followed it to the fullest. I did something that I love and I believe the best recipe in life is to follow what you want to do, especially when you are young.

Are classical dance forms popular among youngsters?

Yes, there is a sense of popularity with social media around. But youngsters look for instant gratification which is not possible in classical dance because the sadhana required for it is immersive and much deeper. Young people are not willing to take that time off. They want it quick. 

Your association with Vandhana Kasaravalli…

I’ve known Vandhana for many years now. When she invited me over for this
programme, I didn’t think twice because sometimes personal relations and associations carry more weight than other factors. Vandhana is a wonderful human being.

How did you enjoy Asmi?

Like the Anandi Arts Foundation that organised ‘Asmi’, I am also involved in outreach programmes for the underprivileged back home. We go outside Kuala Lumpur to train underprivileged kids. My weekends are dedicated to this cause. This also cuts me from my tours. The kids need to perform as many times as possible to get the right exposure.     

What is your definition of a dancer, teacher and choreographer?

The three mutually exclusive. A good dancer is not necessarily a good teacher and a good teacher may not be a good choreographer. A sense of humbleness and generosity about the art form is essential. As a teacher, you have to be generous and as a choreographer, you have to be interested in everything that is happening around you.

Tell us about your organisation Sutra Dance Theatre.

Sutra Dance Theatre has become a counselling place. With the popularity of Indian dance, the amount of requests we receive to teach and train in dance is enormous. Looks like everybody wants to dance.

What keeps you going at 65?

I have a 65-year-old’s body and an 18-year-old’s mind. I think for a dancer to stop moving is death. I am afraid if I stop for too long, I may not be able to get up and continue.

Thoughts on Bengaluru...

Bengalureans are basically much more international compared to the audience in Chennai. People here are open to all forms of dance.  

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City accepting of all dance forms: Ramli

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