Sutra Dance Theatre is an innovative nerve centre of dance that has, over the last three decades, strived to uphold its aim to nurture the Malaysian performing arts scene. Established in 1983 by Ramli Ibrahim, Sutra Dance Theatre has groomed a generation of Malaysian dancers and taken original Malaysian works to reach out to national and international audience, promoting the cultural diversity and vibrancy of Malaysian dance.
Repeated invitations to perform in dance bastions in India itself indicate the high international acclaim and esteem Sutra’s accomplishments have garnered. Sutra has also collaborated with Malaysian and overseas theatre-makers in costume and set design, script, and music. Its activities include performances, exhibitions (Sutra Gallery) and teaching (Sutra Academy). Sutra is associated with odissi not only in Malaysia, but also internationally. Sutra’s multi-racial dancers of Malay, Indian, Chinese and mixed races speak well of Dance transcending racial and cultural barriers in Malaysia.
The Artistes of Sutra Dance Theatre
started bharatanatyam under her mother, Sudha Sasikumar, founder of Nritya Kalanjali Dance School (Ipoh, Perak) and then commenced learning odissi with Sutra Dance Theatre. With inherent angasuddha (perfection of body pose), Geethika excels in both classical styles. At eleven, Geethika was first featured in Sutra’s Alarippu to Moksha and now, at nineteen, she is already a seasoned dancer performing internationally in Sutra’s major productions in its international tours. She has partnered Ramli Ibrahim in several performances of odissi, the most significant being their performances (2011) for the former Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh; India’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Anand Sharma; and the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak.
was introduced to odissi by Sooraj Subramaniam, a Sutra senior dancer, and then continued to pursue this dance style with Sutra. A dynamic dancer in control of her technique, Mei Mei made impact in her first performance The First Awakenings (Alarippu to Moksha 2005). She was then featured in all of Sutra’s major odissi productions like Spellbound, Vision of Forever and contemporary modern productions such as Titiwangsa!, Transfigurations, Into the Centre, Tarikan, River Sutra, Krishna, Love Re-Invented and Quintessence. A seasoned dancer, Mei Me has participated in Sutra’s international tours taking in U.S., Europe, Oman, Singapore and India. Mei Mei runs her family business and also teaches odissi at Sutra.
first trained in ballet, and then bharatanatyam and odissi with Sutra. Of mixed Indian and Chinese parentage, Divya has participated in all of Sutra’s major dance productions. She has toured India, Europe, Oman and USA with appearances in major centres such as Carnegie Hall (2008), Asia Society (2014), Downtown Dance Festival in 2011 (NY) and Kennedy Center of Performing Arts (Washington DC 2014). Divya stood out as a Sutra major talent in Ramli Ibrahim’s contemporary work L’Après Midi d’un Faune (2011), partnering Sean Scantlebury (Battery Dance Company, NY) and in Rathimalar’s Panjara. Her first contemporary choreography ‘Stranded soul in black coffin’ for Tepak Tari was featured as part of DiverseCity 2015 – Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival. She currently pursues a Business Degree.
Harenthiran’s transformation into a compelling dancer performing the principal male roles in many of Sutra’s productions, is a slow but steady process. Trained in odissi, bharatanatyam, ballet and contemporary modern techniques, Harenthiran is a passionate performer with long expressive limbs, and he projects a compelling stage presence. He has taken many major roles in Sutra productions such as Spellbound, Vision of Forever, River Sutra and Krishna, Love Re-invented and most recently in Divya Nair’s work ‘Stranded soul in black coffin’. He has toured extensively with Sutra in the U.S. and India besides Malaysia.
grew up with a lot of exposure to dance and performances as she watched her sister Revathi performed with Sutra. She formally started odissi classes at the age of 11, followed by ballet and contemporary dance techniques. When her talent and progress as a dancer was apparent, she was chosen to perform with Sutra dancers. Soon she became a regular dancer and performed with Sutra in its tours of Malaysia, Europe and India. Vetheejay has performed in most of Sutra’s major productions for the past few years. She is currently doing an accountancy course at Sunway University.
started bharatanatyam at the age of five but had to take a break for four years when the family moved to Sabah. She then joined Sutra and learnt bharatanatyam when the family shifted back to Kuala Lumpur. She expanded her repertoire with odissi two years later. She has performed in Sutra’s productions River Sutra and Krishna, Love Re-invented. Now at eighteen, she is doing her A-levels in science in Brickfields Asia College. She enjoys sports, listening to music, reading, and of course, dance. She dreams to be a neurologist in future.
left > Mridulla Kannan
Vanizha Vasanthanathan’s rise as one of Malaysia’s top models is short of meteoric. In the last eight months, she is the most photographed face in the industry, blazing the pages of glossy magazines and walking the fashion ramps in KL. Vanizha started learning odissi at 15 but was too lanky and too tall to dance in Sutra’s regular performances. The graceful grooming of dance, however, gave her that extra elegance and style that has placed her to good advantage. Her distinctive tribal looks made her the perfect choice face for GANJAM, her first major Sutra production. Vanizha also created an impact in Divya Nair’s Stranded Soul in a Black Coffin modelling Amanda Brown’s gothic fashion creations. She is now a full-time model.
At eighteen, Thrisherna, trained in odissi and bharatanatyam, is the youngest and one of the brightest stars of the new generation of Sutra dancers. Supremely confident, Thrisherna, who has a remarkable aptitude for movement, invests her movement with energy and verve. She has performed in most of Sutra’s productions and participated in its major national and international tours. Thrisherna is a born dancer who is presently at the top of her art form. She continues to invest in her talent as she develops her artistry, consolidating her mastery of the different dance techniques and approaches.
Abtin Javid has an exotic background, having Iranian father and French mother. With credential as a photographer and website master, Abtin came to Sutra with no inkling that he would also be inducted into dance. Besides looking after Sutra’s graphic and website matters, Abtin started learning dance from zero in August 2014, after watching Krishna, Love Re-Invented. The total experience of being with Sutra has been an ‘awakening’ process as he rises to the challenge of bringing out his full artistic potential, mastering a dance technique that demands total involvement: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Abtin also accompanies Ramli to assist him teaching for Sutra’s outreach programs.