Tarkaash (The Quiver)
Contemporary Dances (Solo)
60 mins, 1999
Consultant: Dr. Abdul Rahman
Concept & Choreography: Anita Ratnam
Music Selected and arranged: O.S. Arun and Anita Ratnam
Music for Ara Murasu and Mera Safar - Composed and Sung by: O.S. Arun
Choreography Assistants: Aarti Bodani & L.Narendra Kumar
Costume designers: V.V. Ramani and Hema Ramani
Compere: L. Subhasri
Special thanks to Dipankar Mukherjee of Pangea World Theatre, Minneapolis, USA
An Exploration of the Spirit of Islam This dance presentation by Anita Ratnam, premiered in September 1999 at Natyarangam's dance festival, "Bharatam Samanvayam". The thematic dance presentation explored and highlighted the richness, the versatility and the oneness of all faiths - Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or Christianity, by noted artistes Vyjayantimala Bali, Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala, C.V.Chandrasekhar and Father Francis Barboza among others.
The word "Tarkaash" came from a poem by a contemporary Indian poet and dancer, Anu Mazumdar, of Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India. The bow and arrow has a universal appeal, representing the pristine nature of soul search with its purity of direction, just like the principles of Islam. Choreographic ideas were put together from the movement motif of the devout at prayer, the reading of the Koran, the spiralling turn of the dervish, the Haj pilgrimages, the mystical trances of the Sufis, images from Morocco and Turkey, conversations with American Muslims and the perceptions of Eastern Europe immigrants, to piece together the huge disparity and also the commonality of the 5 Pillars that they revere. The 5 Pillars uphold Allah as the only God, the importance of praying five times a day and fasting for thirty days during the month of Ramadan, the need to give "zakat" (charity) and the importance of the pilgrimage to Haj.
Dr Abdul Rahman, a progressive scholar, writer and poet at Chennai (Madras), provided vital and positive inputs for the work. He has studied comparative religion between Islam and Hinduism and encouraged the bold portrayals that form the texture of "Tarkaash". One of his compositions "Ara Murasu" (The Right Path), also forms the centerpiece of the programme.
The music for the various segments is a mixture of world melodies from Senegal, Turkey, Morocco, Japan, U.K. and India, as well as the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's hypnotic voice. O.S.Arun a talented and upcoming artist who has collaborated with many of Anita Ratnam's productions in the past, has selected and arranged the scores.
The programme captures the uniqueness and unifying nature of a people's faith. The image of the quiver reflects the boundless energy within mankind, which hurtles out in a hundred different directions, targeting innumerable challenges at the physical, material or spiritual levels. Dynamic energy that dissipates itself in the desperate hope that the quiver never falls empty or that the final arrow at least nears the mark.
Talking about the choreography for "Tarkaash", Anita said, "As a springboard to choreography, I have used the movement motif of the devout at prayer, the reading of the Koran, the spiralling turn of the dervish, the Haj pilgrimages, the mystical trances of the Sufis, images from Morocco and Turkey, conversations with American Muslims and the perceptions of Eastern Europe immigrants, to piece together the huge disparity and also the commonality of the 5 Pillars that they revere. The 5 Pillars uphold Allah as the only God, the importance of praying 5 times a day, the need to fast, the need to give charity and the importance of the pilgrimage to Haj. A storehouse of ideas also came from enthralling scenes of old Hindi movies, nostalgic love songs and immensely rich Urdu poetry, to reflect the life and the living of a vibrant culture with its intricate crafts and workmanship and exquisite social graces," smiled Anita.
I must say first, that the whole programme was extremely successful. The idea of acting as a guide to Anita, was to help clear the misunderstandings on Islam by non-Muslims. My poem "Ara Murasu", is about Prophet Mohammed and contains the principles of Islam in a nutshell.
- Dr Abdul Rahman, Scholar/Poet
The theme was dealt with in a kind of fusion approach by Anita Ratnam...
- Nandini Ramani, "The Hindu"
The audience, very well received Anita Ratnam's dance piece on Islam that she resourced with the guidance of Dr Abdul Rahman, especially the women of Islam. This major uncotroversial breakthrough deserves a place in our columns.
- Asma Menon, Chennaionline.com
"Tarkaash" was a feast for the eyes... The painstaking research done for this dance programme was very evident.
- Simham Kumar, "Dinamani"
In "Ara Murasu", Anita has made intelligent use of Bharatanayam 'hastas' (gestures) to bring out the basic tenets of the religion.
- S.Janaki, "Sruti"
I hope this approach will help the seekers of truth find a new meaning of religion and group living in general and life in particular.
- A Boopalan, Chennai