Friday, November 06, 2015

SWF 2015 :: A Quest for Dance

The performance also celebrated the launch of the memoirs of the late Singapore dance pioneer PK Bhaskar, titled 'A Quest for Dance'. In this showcase, Bhaskar's Arts Academy's 74-year-old Mrs Santha Bhaskar choreographed two classical Indian dances to two poems- a Malay poem 'Terkocak' by Abdul Ghani Hamid (1933 - 2014 pen name Lazuardi); and an English poem 'Anger' by Alvin Pang. It was very nice to have singers and musicians accompany the dancers.

After the dances, there was a short dialogue with Mrs Santha Bhaskar. Moderated by Stephanie Burridge, the panel included the book's editors Wong Chee Meng and N Nedumaran. Of course everyone was keen to hear Mrs Bhaskar's thoughts. She and the late PK Bhaskar brought kathakali to Singapore, dedicated their lives to dance and nurturing the classical forms, ensuring their place in the arts in pragmatic Singapore. I really enjoyed this session.

Abdul Ghani Hamid's title of 'Terkocak' means splashed. The poem describes the poet's dream of the quiet pond and his feelings of watching the grasshoppers and the ripples on the water. Performed in kathak by a solo dancer, the gentle swirl of her skirts reminded me of the water's ripples.

Riak air tenang
menentang pepohonan di tebing 
kuselami dasarnya
kutemui kesepian
kutemani sekitarnya
kutemui satu impian

ketenangan seluas kolam
hijau airnya memanjang  
kukucupi bayu lulu  
terdengar sebuah lagu  
kupetik nadanya  
tersua rasa pilu.

Written in 2001, Alvin Pang's 'anger' describes the elemental emotion controlling his mind and soul. Performed in bharatanatyam by three dancers, they recited the poem, gave it the ponderous silences, and then expressed the intense emotions along with the musicians' beats.

If I let this anger go, where would it go?  
If into air, would it fall back  as thunder in the next storm rising?  
If into water, who might drink it in?  
I cannot bury it in earth, or it could sprout.  
A forest of such rage would be too cruel.  
It will not burn itself out; smoldering,  
it does not flare nor fade. Holding it up  
to the light, I cannot tell it from the light.  
In the dark, keeping me from sleep,  it whispers loud enough to be heard  
but not understood, holds me  like a chill. I want it to be still.

I want to sit and ease its grip  
with song, its temper loosened from  
belly into lap, all furred, bristling  
with glares, but present as a chair,  
seen for what it is. The clash of minutes  
on a clock. Hope condensing on a knife.  
Love divided into want and need.  
I would listen to this fury speak  in its own voice, words that hold no  
meaning but their being, discover  
how it lives and why it came to me.

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