One of Sutra’s most irresistible productions last year was Amorous Delight, which premiered in Malaysia on 20 July, 2016. Such was its success that Sutra Foundation endeavours to stage Amorous Delight for a second season at the KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) as part of its fundraising efforts for 2017.
What makes this restaging particularly exciting is the added creative input of Dato’ Seri Bernard Chandran, Malaysia’s fashion mogul and designer to the region’s celebrities, royalty and high society mavens, who will be giving the production an alluring new look in terms of its costume design. Dato’ Seri Bernard has previously designed for Sutra’s ‘L’Apres midi D’un Faune’, a work which Datuk Ramli Ibrahim performed, accompanied by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, in 2014.
Amorous Delight is set to blaze a different path from Sutra’s previous and equally successful production of GANJAM, performed at the beginning of 2016. If GANJAM was spectacular with its exuberant folk energy, the second staging of Amorous Delight will be stunning in the way subtle eroticism, inspired by palm leaf illustrations, come to life as a dance-theatre work of art.
Amorous Delight, a contemporary odissi production with dance composition and artistic direction by Meera Das and Ramli Ibrahim, performed by Sutra Dancers, took its inspiration from the ninth-century Amarushataka, a Sanskrit anthology of hundred short verses, all concerned with sringara rasa, the erotic sentiment of love.
The Amarushataka had been illustrated by Indian chitrakar (traditional painters) over centuries from different parts of India. The visual images rendered in palm-leaf (pothi) of the Sharanakula master (his name was never known) of Nayagarh district, Odisha, were some of the most beautiful and artistic of these rare illustrations.
When Ramli Ibrahim was first presented with the publication Amorous Delight published by Museum Rietberg (Zurich), collaboratively written by Dr Eberhard Fischer and Dr Dinanath Pathy, Ramli was struck by the magnificent palm leaf manuscript illustrations of the Sharanakula master. He saw its potential as a lyrical dance production. When he mentioned this to the late Dr Dinanath Pathy, the latter wholeheartedly agreed. That was more than ten years ago.
What emerges from this collaboration is a thoroughly engaging contemporary dance-theatre production, which positively takes in the integration of several creative points of embarkation from odissi, chitrakar of palmleaf (traditional painting) tradition, contemporary visual art, lighting design, to an irresistible commissioned music. The lighting design by Sivarajah Natarajan compliments Pathy’s design inviting the audience to a ravishing visual feast of the highest order.
Once again Sutra demonstrated its capability to transcend the traditional seamlessly to venture into the realm of contemporary, in a borderless world where ‘modernity’ is informed by, and forms a continuum of, traditional techniques and sensibilities. True to the spirit of creativity, Amorous Delight points to a creative eclectic future while reflecting (but not absconding from) the past.
The intimate, intense and timeless visions of love have continually inspired painters to express themselves in literature, visual and performing arts since ancient times. With the development of new ideas and luscious lyrical interpretation, Sutra’s second season of Amorous Delight is set to transform and soar further to new height. We hope the vision of love presented will continue to delight and linger long in your mind in the erotic contours of odissi as expressed in the bodies of the Sutra dancers.