UNDERSTANDING the dichotomy between the exalted goddess hailed in religious spheres, and her space as a woman in today’s sociological environment is the concept behind the dance, Aadya.
Says bharathanatyam dancer-teacher Ajith Bhaskaran Dass: “Ironically I explored the goddess theme in my first self-produced company production in 1994 — called Brahmashri — which was staged in Malaysia and Canada.
“25 years later, I am reconnecting with the same concept. But my connection with the goddess has evolved, just as I have grown with my chosen art form.”
Ajith, artistic director and founder of Johor-based Suvarna Fine Arts dance academy, is presenting Aadya with 12 of his dancers, in collaboration with violinist Achyuthan Sashidaran Nair on Aadya, who is also celebrating his silver jubilee in the classical music arena.
“Some of the dancers have trained and performed with me for the past two decades. Three are senior dancers who are also faculty members of Suvarna — Vijay Chandran, Suzatha Suppiah and Ananthemalar Durairaj.”
The production is about Aadya, the primordial being and the supreme energy behind all manifestations of goddesses.
References of this production was mainly from the Devi Mahatmyam (Glory of the Goddess), which was written between 400-600 CE, and a part of Markandeya Purana, a Sanskrit text of Hinduism.
Ajith, 50, is offering not just the mythlogical stories and virtues of the goddess but is connecting today’s understanding of women and their role in society with symbolism behind it.
“I look at the goddess now as an iconic symbol of women empowerment. My focus is to look at ancient texts such as the Devi Mahatmayam and discover new sub-texts within those sacred and inspired lines.
“For example, if the goddess is described as the One with many arms, I connect it with how women are able to multi-task… as a career woman, wife, mother and more.”
Aadya has four segments, beginning with the prologue introducing the unmanifest cosmic feminine existence called aadya. “This manifests into three channels of energy to support mankind – power, prosperity and philosophy – which in turn are given a feminine form to help man focus on these cardinal energies… Durga -Power, Lakshmi – Properity and Saraswathi – Philosophy.
“The three energies are combined to form a Supreme energy… a leader… a Queen to guide man.
“The Supreme leader now embarks to create her government of various leaders and members of her governance. Various deities manifest in multifarious forms with a million names and are enshrined as goddesses in temples all over the world. This is to help keep mankind from self-destruction.
“Dance wise, this piece is a magnam opus that describes the form and the enshrined temples of over 32 goddesses (deities).”
Aadya will ends with how the Supreme leader cannot stop mankind from self-destruction, with greed, lust and thirst for power and control.
“Thus come the destroyer, Adi Shakti, while greed comes as demon Rakthabeeja. Much like evil forces around the world now who form allies to supress people.”
Lastly, the unmanifest Aadya finally dissolves into nothingness… and the cycle continues.
The show features an original music score by violinist Achyuthan Sashidaran, popularly called Sashi.
The sought-after musician says: “Musically, the raagas (melody framework) were carefully chosen to suit the mood of the production.
“Every raga was selected based on the characteristics and embodiment of the goddess. Some rare ragaas are used to fuse to create different feels. That very embodiment is the one that inspired me musically, which is translated through various musical instruments such as violin, veena and special rhythmic effects from the ganjira (Indian one-sided percussion instrument) and drum pads; which I composed, orchestrated and directed.”
Sashi, an IT graduate, leads a music ensemble comprising vocalist Nandakumar Unnikrishnan, nattuvangam (rhythm master) Guruvayur Usha Dorai, Theban Arumugam on mridangam, percussionist Muthuraman and Swetha Prem on veena.
When: Sept 22, 2018, 7.30pm
Where: Shantanand Auditorium, Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur
For tickets, call 016 9644941/016 252 0063