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Faces...blessed unrest

Anita Ratnam's dance finds power in stillness

In an irony of sorts, it was Anita Ratnam's Contemporary statement "Faces" that stole the thunder in a festival titled Parampara

Evolution' s brush paints each face with uniqueness. The face sets one apart, spelling a human being' s identity in a portrait reflecting the soul with " eyes marking its intentions." Anita Ratnam' s inspired creation leaves the audience with strong, tender and suggestive images of a spectrum of emotions, spinning a tale of familiar and loved faces and personas from myth and daily life. And spurring her on this extraordinary journey with the many evocative rhythms, and voices of melody and emotion is the music directed and arranged by Anil Srinivasan - which is nothing short of soul stirring with famous voices of Sikkil Gurcharan, Revathy Sankaran, Subhiksha Rangarajan and Vedant Bhardwaj.

Eliot at the back
Its direction and dramaturgy gave the entire production with a sense of theatre and timing, starting with Mithran Devanesan' s enigmatically lit face within a square frame, with sound of Eliot' s poetry. Anita' s dance finds power in stillness. The opening face of compassion visualises telling glimpses of the Goddess Annapoorneswari - the provider who sustains life with The Muttuswamy Dikshitar Kriti in raga Sama " Annapoorne Vishalakshi" sung on tape. The contrasting face of Rage follows, starting off with the beauty of face and form of the devi, transforming as the protector of the world by destroying evil transcending and rejecting boundaries of gender and pretty domesticity in her battle to save the universe. Music of instruments like the long Tibetan pipe, the Punnagavarali raga with Sanskrit Chants of " Aigiri Nandini" singing the triumph of Mahishasuramardini and Anita' s choreography with the strong, broad ' plie' and unblinking staring eyes focussed on the target, the mocking laughter with loud drums and the derisive flinging of the container with the ' sindoor' onto the floor, the spilt red a symbolic stroke. The cherished tenderness of the next sequence portraying the pain of memory unable to recollect contours of that loved face, even as the body vividly carries memories of shared desire, was based on the aching sweetness of Bharatiyar' s indelible lyric in Jhonpuri " Aasai mukham marandu poche" . The timeless face based on raga Brindavani Saranga is that of Rama, the deft choreographic touches like brush strokes painting landmarks of the epic narrative. When Anita swathed in Sandhya Raman' s elegantly designed white gown danced in ecstasy to the warm melodies of the Rajasthani folk tune, every heart in the audience was dancing. A truly evolved evocative effort!
Leela Venkataraman, THE HINDU, Friday Review Delhi, November 7, 2008
(The section of the review on Anita's Faces)

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