Chhau is an Indian dance form with martial tribal and folk traditions with origins in Eastern India.
It has vigorous leaps, jumps and somersaults which took the shape of dance often telling stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
Mayurbhanj Chhau is a martial dance from North Odisha. It has a strong body training technique, and is a dance drama about Gods and Goddesses and sometimes animals. Its props include swords, shields, sticks, bow and arrow.
The richness of its technique lends itself to new interpretations and expressions.
Navarasa is the 9 emotions that humans experience, not only in the arts but in the day to day lives.
A rasa literally means “juice essence or taste”. It refers to the essence crafted into the work by the writer/ artiste and relished by a “sensitive spectator or sahrdaya” .
It connotes a concept in Indian Arts about the aesthetic flavour of any visual, literary or musical work that evokes an emotion or feeling in the spectator/ reader.
Nava Rasa, the 9 emotions propounded by Sage Bharata in Natya Shastra (200 BCE – 200 CE):
The ninth rasa, Shanta, was only introduced by Abhinava Gupta, arguably around the 11th century.
Let us see how these universal emotions apply to our daily lives across cultures.
River Ramble: the story of Singapore River
This dance-drama retells the story of Singapore River from the yester years to the modern day.
It starts with a descriptive narrative on the characteristics of the element water – based on Raga Megh (meaning Cloud) the dancers play with the components of water (raindrops, clouds, splash of water) in this pure dance item called Megh Pallavi. The story begins on the banks of a scenic Kampong life on a fishing sampan (boat) and reimagines the trading of the spices, fish, fruits and vegetables. The boat takes another turn and we hear about the legend of Sang Nila Utama from a Chinese story teller who keeps the legends alive on the “tonkang” boats down the river.
1970s saw a downturn in the life of the river with the rise of industrialisation. The pollutants from warehouses make the River look like an eyesore in the island yet it struggles to relentlessly flow on with optimism.
It was 1977 onwards, as part of an environmental renewal program by the Public Utility Board, that the Singapore River was cleansed and was brought back to its vibrancy as it continues to flow in its full glory!