Amrita, the drop of elixir. photo by A Prathap 2016

Datuk Ramli Ibrahim 

Described by international dance connoisseurs as one of the finest artistes of his generation, Ramli Ibrahim has set stages ablaze in venerated centres of dance from Konarak and Khajuraho to Paris and New York for more than three decades. Ramli’s rigorous training in ballet, modern, and Indian classical dance reflects not only his diverse technical accomplishment, but also his multifaceted approach to the Arts.

Ramli, the dancer, continues to hold audiences spellbound with his ability to draw them into his performance, allowing them to resonate with the spirit of the art and the artiste. As artistic director of the Sutra Dance Theatre, he has been a fountainhead of creativity, choreographing stunning works with his distinct artistic sensibility honed under legends such the late Guru Debaprasad Das (Odissi) and Padmashri Adyar K. Lakshman (Bharata Natyam).

Ramli, the Guru, has nurtured some of the brightest talents to have emerged in the field of dance in Malaysia, many of whom have won international acclaim in both traditional and contemporary scenes. It is his unerring eye for detail and strong emphasis on authentic technical precision that has made him the quintessential Guru in the Indian tradition, exacting the best out of his pupils and yet instilling in them the modern sensibility required to become a truly international artiste.

Ramli, the visionary, has been instrumental in transforming the dance scenario in Malaysia by boldly charting new paths and opening up fresh vistas through his innate yearning to embrace diverse art forms. Today, he is known for single-handedly establishing Odissi as a recognisable and widely appreciated dance form in the country, while creating a distinctively Malaysian interpretation of this ancient tradition. Odissi has remained Sutra’s avowed concern specifically of the rare Debaprasad Odissi style.

Ramli has further evolved this Odissi as an intellectual art where the contemporary make its universal and international relevance. His unique re-interpretation and concept reflect the visionary dancer, teacher and choreographer that transcend the limitations of a tradition. Ramli endeavours to release Odissi from its popular simplification and tinsel glamour to its true and authentic fundamental tenets.

As a pioneer, Ramli is recognised internationally as a cultural icon and a dynamic force within the arts scene, evident in the various accolades conferred upon him including the Fulbright Distinguished Artist Award 1999, the Lifetime Achievement (BOH Cameronian) Award 2003, ANGARAG Lifetime Achievement Award 2006 from Guru Debaprasad Dance Institute, Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Johan Setia Mahkota (J.S.M), Anugerah Karyawan Seni (National Arts Award) for Choreographer from the Ministry of Culture, Arts & Heritage and most recently, Purush Award 2009 from the Nartak Festival (Chennai).

Ramli Ibrahim is chairman of Sutra Foundation and has steered as artistic director, a highly successful international Odissi festival, Stirring Odissi ’08 (Kuala Lumpur,May 21 – June 14, 2008); led Sutra on a successful performance at Carnegie Hall (New York, 2008) and performed at the Downtown Festival in the midst of Wall Street, Battery Park (2011) – New York’s financial district.  He was featured with his star dancer January Low on the International Dance Festival (New Delhi, 2010) presented by ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations).

2011 – 2013 has brought four fresh major awards for Ramli Ibrahim – Distinguished International Artist Award from his Alma Mater, University of Western Australia; Ram Gopal Best Male Dancer Award (Attendance, Bangalore); Best Foreign Odissi Institution (International Odissi Festival, Bhubaneswar);

and the coveted Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (New Delhi), Living Heritage (Malaysia)

He is acknowledged as a ‘Living Heritage’ by the Government of Malaysia (2012) and is presently Chairman of Sutra Foundation. The United Nations declared him to be a UNESCO Living Treasure in 2012, an extraordinary recognition that a Malaysian artist possesses “to a high degree the knowledge and skills required for performing or re-creating specific elements of the intangible cultural heritage.”

The President of India awarded YBhg. Datuk Ramli the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award 2011, the first for a Malaysian. The award is recognised as the highest national honour conferred on performing artists, gurus and scholars of the performing arts. It is the most coveted honour artistes aspire to get and in year 2013 he received a Datukship from the Federal Government of Malaysia.

At the recent Royal Arts Gala in January 2014, an annual event organised by My Performing Arts Agency (MyPAA) and Department of Culture (JKKN), YBhg. Datuk Ramli was awarded the Arts Veteran Award. He recently had a successful world premieres productions in DiverseCity 2015: Kuala Lumpur International Dance Festival focussed showcase of 12 stimulating dance-theatre productions which also involves GuoGuang Opera Company, Taiwan.

Awards

1999    Fulbright Distinguished Artist Award 1999;

2003    Lifetime Achievement (BOH Cameronian) Award;

2006    ANGARAG Lifetime Achievement Award, Guru Debaprasad Dance Institute, Bhubaneswar (Orissa);

2006    Johan Setia Mahkota (J.S.M);

2007    Anugerah Karyawan Seni (National Arts Award) for Choreographer from the Ministry of Culture, Arts & Heritage;

2009    Lifetime Achievement Award, Federation of Associations of Cultural Promotion, Asia;

2009    Purush Lifetime Achievement Award 2009 from the Nartak Festival (Chennai);

2011    Kumar Utsab Livetime Achievement Award (Cuttack, Odisha, India);

2011   Distinguished International Artist Award, University of Western Australia;

2011   Ram Gopal Best Male Dancer Award (Attendance, Bangalore);

2011    Best Foreign Odissi Institution (International Odissi Festival, Bhubaneswar);

2011    Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (New Delhi);

2012    Living Heritage Malaysia (Jabatan Warisan Negara);

2013    Conferred ‘Datukship’ from the Federal Government of Malaysia

2014    Arts Veteran Award from Royal Arts Gala

2014    Peak Award for Arts and Culture 2014

2014    8th Chausathi Yogini Nrutya Prativa Samman 2014 award (8th Chausathi Yogini Mahostav 2014)

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