Datuk Ramli Ibrahim

Datuk Ramli Ibrahim

Artistic Director, Sutra Dance Theatre

Described by international dance connoisseurs as one of the finest artistes of his generation, Ramli Ibrahim is a cultural icon who has performed internationally for more than four decades. His rigorous training in ballet, modern, and Indian classical  dance  reflects  not  only  his  diverse  technical  accomplishment,  but  also  his multifaceted approach to the performing arts.

As artistic director of Sutra Dance Theatre, Ramli has choreographed stunning works and nurtured some of the brightest dance talents from Malaysia, many of whom have won international acclaim in both traditional and contemporary scenes.

Ramli has been instrumental in transforming the dance scenario in Malaysia to greater heights. 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.

As a pioneer, Ramli is recognised internationally within the arts scene, evident in the numerous accolades conferred upon him. He is acknowledged as a ‘Living Heritage’ by the Government of Malaysia as the United Nations declared him to be a UNESCO Living Treasure in 2012.

The President of India has awarded Ramli with the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2011), the first ever for a Malaysian. The award is recognised as the highest national honour conferred on performing artists, gurus and scholars of the performing arts. In year 2013, he received a Datukship from the Federal Government of Malaysia.

He was most recently conferred the Padma Shri Award (2018) from the Government of India, Perdana Award (2019) and the Lifetime Arts Achievement Award (2019) by Sugam Culture and Heritage Foundation.

Geethika Sree

Geethika Sree

Principal Dancer & teacher, Sutra Dance Theatre

Geethika Sree started bharatanatyam under her mother, Sudha Sasikumar and then commenced odissi with Ramli Ibrahim. She was first featured at Sutra when she was eleven years old and now, she is a seasoned dancer performing internationally in Sutra’s major productions. Geethika was assistant to artistic director for Sutra’s latest productions, GANJAM, Amorous Delight and Odissi on High. She performed solo in Penetrating the Goddess 2017 and was chosen as one of the ‘Top 10 New Generation Malaysian Cultural Dancers 2017’. Geethika has recently received the ‘Guru Debaprasad Yuva Prativa Samman 2018’ Youth Award by Tridhara (Bhubaneswar) and the ‘Swayam Prakasha Nartakhi 2019’ award by Sarasalaya (Chennai). She has partnered Ramli Ibrahim in several performances of odissi for heads of states at international gatherings. Geethika is presently the principal dancer of Sutra and works full time as Sutra administrator.

Tan Mei Mei

Tan Mei Mei

Principal Dancer & teacher, Sutra Dance Theatre

Tan Mei Mei is a seasoned and dynamic performer in control of her technique.  She made impact in her first performance, The First Awakenings (Alarippu to Moksha 2005) and was subsequently featured in all of Sutra’s major odissi productions such as Spellbound, Vision of Forever and contemporary modern productions, Titiwangsa!, Transfigurations, Into the Centre, Tarikan, River Sutra, She Ra and Quintessence. Mei Mei participated in Sutra’s international tours taking in U.S., Europe, Oman, Singapore and many cities of India, which includes New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ujjain, Bhubaneswar etc and at the prestigious Konark Dance Festival in 2011 and 2017. She was assistant to artistic director for Sutra’s latest production Odissi on High (2018 & 2019). Mei Mei is known for her deft saree draping technique and knowledge of Indian textiles. She runs her family business and also teaches odissi at Sutra.

Revathi Selvam Karthik

Revathi Selvam Karthik

Principal Dancer & teacher, Sutra Dance Theatre

Revathi Selvam Karthik is trained in bharatanatyam, odissi and modern dance under Ramli Ibrahim.  She presented her bharatanatyam arangetram in 2006 and had performed extensively with Sutra in India, Europe and Malaysia. Her lithesome and focused presence evoked intense emotion from her audience. She had partnered Ramli Ibrahim on several occasions and her performance credits included A Kind of Radiance (Malaysia/India 2003 culminating at the Khajuraho Dance Festival), Spellbound World tour and Stirring Odissi 2008 to name a few. In 2011 she moved to Chennai to start a family.  The call of dance brought her back to Sutra’s production of GANJAM (2015) and Embattled, Emboldened & Empowered (2019), a full bharatanatyam repertoire with Sutra dancer Suchitra Narayanan. Today, Revathi has moved back to Kuala Lumpur and is part of Sutra’s major productions and teaches bharatanatyam and odissi in Sutra.

Harenthiran Pulingam

Harenthiran Pulingam

Principal Dancer & teacher, Sutra Dance Theatre

Harenthiran is a compelling dancer who has performed principal male roles in many of Sutra’s productions. Trained in odissi, bharatanatyam, ballet and contemporary modern techniques, Harenthiran is a passionate performer with long expressive limbs, projecting intense stage presence. He has taken many major roles in Sutra productions such as Spellbound, Vision of Forever, Krishna – Love Re-invented, and recently GANJAM, Amorous Delight and Odissi on High. He has toured extensively with Sutra in the U.S., Europe and major cities of India besides Malaysia. Harenthiran shows an aptitude towards choreography and contributes his creative ideas to many of Sutra’s productions.

Nishah Govind Kumar

Nishah Govind Kumar

Senior Dancer & teacher, Sutra Dance Theatre

Nishah Govind Kumar took up odissi in 2003. As a child, she first came to Sutra but moved on to study under Guru Sri Ganesan. However, her strong attraction to odissi brought her back to Sutra and her determination, devotion and passion for odissi saw her catching up with the more experienced colleagues. Nishah’s quick rise and development caught the eye of Ramli Ibrahim who encouraged her to explore her fullest potential in odissi. She made her mark as a principal dancer in Amour (Sutra’s Under the Stars series 2004). Nishah performed and travelled extensively with Sutra for many productions, namely Spellbound, Vision of Forever, River Sutra, Tarikan and many more. She took a break in 2013 to focus on her career and start a family. Nishah came back in 2017 and proved her talent in In Pieces (contemporary) & Envy, Longing, Desire (odissi).

Vickneshwaran

Vickneshwaran

Senior Dancer, Sutra Dance Theatre

Vickneshwaran, a highly musical and intelligent dancer, emerged from the ranks of Sutra dancers. An engineer by profession, Vickneshwaran took up odissi seven years ago. Due to his natural aptitude for dance, hard work, dedication and prodigious talent he is able to catch up in both expressive and technical proficiency and to dance along with Sutra’s senior dancers.  He was eventually chosen to perform in GANJAM at Istana Budaya and in Sutra’s recent tour of Konark Festival and Uttar Pradesh. Vickneswaran proved his mettle in his recent performance of Serentak and is now in the rank of Sutra’s regular male dancers.

Weijun

Weijun

Motion Graphic Director & Ballet Master of Sutra Dance Theatre

Weijun, a shortlisted candidate for The Datin Paduka Seri Endon Award for Performing Arts Excellence, is no stranger to the Malaysian performing arts scene. Since his return to Malaysia after completing a Bachelor of Arts (Dance) degree in 2001 at Queensland University of Technology (Australia), he has been involved in many acclaimed theatre productions. He is best known for his involvements with Sutra Foundation, both as a dancer-choreographer and his graphic expertise. A multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary artiste, Weijun contributes not only as a dancer, choreographer and dance instructor but also as a singer, composer, songwriter, model, actor, figure skater, pole artist and photographer. Weijun has been a highly valued collaborator as multimedia consultant and graphic designer.

Dancers of Sutra Dance Outreach Program

The Sutra Dance Outreach Program has turned out to be an effective initiative to discover potential talents outside the city centres. The youths’ inherent talents would otherwise remain uncultivated and unrealized. Sutra’s investment of teaching during weekends in such areas of Kuala Selangor, Kajang, Ladang Sg Choh and Rawang for the last seven years has paid off as we can now claim to have groomed young accomplished talents from this initiative. The young dancers now represent the next generation of Sutra dancers. They, who were once ungainly caterpillars, have metamorphosised into butterflies; gawky ducklings have finally turned into swans. We now can see an awareness, confidence and empowerment as the dancers are acknowledged for their hard work and accomplishment.

The success of this project would not have been possible without the cooperation, support and sacrifice of time and energy of dedicated parents who had worked together with us to implement the long term investment of honing their children’s talents.
Several of these young dancers have started to perform with Sutra senior dancers in our productions and overseas.

Collaborators

A Prathap

A Prathap is a Special Photographer with The Times of India, Chennai. He has spent more than 15 years behind the camera, freezing images of national and international events, personalities and performers, and documenting life for posterity in all its myriad situations. Though it began as a hobby (and later became his profession), photography developed for Prathap in a natural progression to become a love as he deepened his aesthetic appreciation and knowledge. Prathap has an intense passion to learn new things from situations and people. He brings the same passion and curiosity while covering a wide range of subjects. Prathap started his career in 2004 with News Today, an evening daily in Chennai, and subsequently joined The Times of India after it began its Chennai edition in 2008. He was involved in directing a short-film documentary that was screened at Bridging Cultures, a documentary film festival organized by Brooklyn College City University, New York. Prathap has participated in many solo and group exhibitions in Sutra such as Between Creations (2014), GANJAM (2016), Ramli in Konark (2016), Myriad Faces (2017), Cave of the Heart (2018) and Sacred Hills (2019) besides the pictorial biography Quintessential Sutra (2015). Prathap is currently documenting the sea gypsies in Borneo.

S Magendran

S Magendran was born in Pahang (Malaysia) and worked in an accounting firm before deciding to be a full time photographer. He has always been passionate about photography since he took it up in 2007. His photography exhibition Sublime Angkor (2012) held at Sutra Gallery captured Sutra dancers when they were performing at the Bayon Temple (Angkor, Cambodia). Such was the success of this solo exhibition that S Magendran decided to delve into professional photography. This has paid off well and he is presently involved in work which he is passionate about. S Magendran has been working with Sutra Foundation since 2010 and has been a significant collaborator to numerous productions, documenting and at the same time exploring his art of dance photography. He has photographed many other dancers and groups in Malaysia whilst working closely with Sutra. S Magendran has participated in many solo and group exhibitions such as Confluence (2012), Joined in Dance (2013), GANJAM (2016) and Amazing Surya (2018). Over the years, S Magendran has consistently deepened his art, enhancing both his intuitive and technical knowledge in dance photography, always surprising us with his ability to capture dance’s ephemeral and euphoric moments.