Odissi dance troupe Sutra. Of Padam Shree Ramli Ibrahim in Chandigarh. .
Renowned Odissi Guru Deba Prasad Das found an ardent student in Ramli Ibrahim of Kuala Lumpur. Ramli, before becoming an odissi maestro, mastered ballet, and learnt bharatnatyam. Guru Debaprasad revived the Odissi dance form in the 20th century. Ramli Ibrahim founded the Sutra Dance Company in 1983 in Kuala Lumpur. Ever since the Malaysian has been performing world over, sometimes the shiva in tandav, a krishna in rasa or a narsimah, bringing about the fall of the evil Hiryanyakshipu.
Chandigarh nicknamed thandigarh on whattsap today, given the record breaking cold. Was warm and exuberant in its only theater. Ramli and his troupe performed the odissi with heart. In an audience of classical dance followers, where every one was agog, at the lithe, fish in water, movements, in tandem with the beats of feet on the floor, Ramli danced for the God’s. In union with his dancers, at once Shiva, then Krishna, and then neither man nor beast as he ripped open in perfect motion the heart of the evil Hiranyakashipu.
Brought to Chandigarh by Lalit Verma of Aurodhan Gallery, Chandigarh Sangeet Natak academy , and Haryana Tourism, the effort is laudable. Especially in these CAB, CAA times. To be a Muslim in Malaysia and then master in Indian dance form which is rendition to the gods in slow motion poses, considered haram in Islam takes more than guts, but then Ibrahim believes in knowing the rules before breaking them, once after performing Shiva semi-naked infront of the infamous Matahir, he went up to meet the former Malaysian Premier who could not recognise him, till he was formally introduced. Such is the power of Odissi, the colours as the dancers whirl in circles take diffrent shades, and for a moment it all looks like a dream sequence.. with every step a different pose, where eyes speak, and the smile is part of the twirl, and turn and the flop on the floor in complete surrender. The Indian dance form accept the bhangra is giving into the dieties one is performing as, that for a minuet it does look as if the gods themselves have descended on the dance stage. The Bhangra one dances with God as if he was a long lost brother. Only in India we will find dance expressing all emotions throghu rhythm. Imagine angry opal eyes becoming longing eyes which have the sadness of a love that once was.
Ramli’s mastery over the odissi only proves that dance knows no borders. Also the ones responsible for keeping our rich heritage and culture alive, should take a leaf out of todays performance at thandigarh oops Chandigarh. Maybe time for a bill to support our culture and heritage. The ones against can protest by dancing on the streets, the ones for can equally respond by dancing. The day this starts happening, we the people can safely call ourself we the cultured people of India.
In photos Ramli Ibrahim, his troupe, and this evening at the dinner organised by Haryana Tourism. Ramli with other distinguished guests including this writer.
Vikram jit Chandigarh December 2019