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Time travel through history | Deccan Herald

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Calling this work a walkdown memory lane isn’t the only thing, so it’s an understatement. The spectacular live production “Encounters-Seen Unseen”, recently performed at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne’s Bungil Place, not only showed a great collaboration between Australian and Indian Indian and Sri Lankan artists, but also seamless music. It was also a fusion. Dance, drama, virtual reality. Needless to say, it took the audience to some sort of fascinating time travel.

“Meeting …” traced the journey of five South Indian dancers and three musicians who traveled to Paris in 1838 when parts of India were colonized by the then French Protectorate. These artists performed hundreds of shows in France, the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, eventually in Vienna. The influence on the European art scene is even that one of the dancers named Amany has become forever immortal in the form of a statue of the Guimet Oriental Museum, one of the most famous museums in Paris.

How everything started

Speaking of live productions with over 500 people, the two main performers of the show, Dr. Yashoda Thakore and Dr. Priya Srinivasan, aren’t very well written or documented about these artists. , I feel I need to tell the story of these artists. Melbourne-based researcher, performer and choreographer Priya says it all started with the success of the first half of “Encounters,” which was performed at the same venue last year. “It was all about meeting composer / musician Muthuswami Dikshitar with a British band at Fort St. George in Madras,” she recalls. “We also performed another piece about the environment, composed by Sri Lankan / British / Australian Veena player and composer Hari Sivanesan.”

Impressed, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra asked Priya and Hari if they could perform another piece. Also, the two artists who are co-founders of “Sangham: South Asian Performing Arts Festival and Diaspora”, which provides a platform for all artists from different backgrounds in South Asia, just thought about it. I was very excited. “In Australia, there aren’t many opportunities for Indian and Asian artists. We are almost a minority.”

Priya was investigating Amany and her group when she was writing her first book, “Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labor,” but didn’t know how to tell their story on stage. It was. “Few people know that these women met Western musicians / composers like Johann Strauss 1 and Joseph Lanner, but their music is still in orchestras around the world. Is being played by, “she says. “The interaction between Amany and Russian ballet, Lucien choreographer and Marius Petipa has created several Indian-themed ballets such as” Saktara “and” La Bayadère. ” “

After figuring out the basic premise of the production, Priya asked her best friend Hachimanden in India if she should make a performance together. Hachimanden was so meaningful to her that she was keen to collaborate with her. The most spectacular part of the story is Yashoda’s own connection with Amanny. Hyderabad-based Kuchipudi dancer from the hereditary Caravansul community said: It was very overwhelming to see this connection. “

In “Meeting …”, Priya went live with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on stage, and Yashoda attracted an audience from India on a big screen. Hari Sivanesan composed some music along with the arrangement of the orchestra by Alex Turley. Images of Amanny and her troupe were displayed as lithographs on the screen, but the beautiful blend of Priya’s contemporary dance and Yashoder’s traditional dance did not leave a dry eye on the audience. Even their costumes layered Yasoda’s “devadasi” costume and Priya’s tutu on top of the sari material to showcase the best of the East and West. Another segment of the show, called “New Homes,” by Hari, who worked and toured with George Harrison and Pandhita Ravi Shankar, followed the journey of Sri Lankan immigrants fleeing their homeland. ..

“We tried to present history in a modern way. Amanny and her troops were part of the first international act from India, especially when they went there across borders and seas. I wanted to publish their story there about how to do it, “explains Hachimanden. “The best thing was my guru who told us that it was the history of her family that we shared on the international stage,” she adds. The duo is currently planning to hold a series of talks online. “Amany and her group have performed more than 150 times across Europe, so there’s still a lot to be noted. Their impact was incredible,” says Priya.

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