Sunday, June 22, 2008

preserving tradition

It has been a while since I posted my last entry. Past two weeks have been very busy but has brought back a lot of memories. My childhood friend and her husband came to visit us. When she came to know about my blog, she helped me to produce this short video clipping showing how alpona[described earlier] is done on the floor using fingers.
We can’t remember at what age our friendship began. We went to the same school, learnt dancing together at the same institute from the same teacher, performed together in several dance programmes, and took up teaching as career. We both taught science subjects in secondary school but never gave up dancing. We are still involved in cultural activities and shared notes about the programmes we recently directed.
We talked about the dance style and dress concept we grew up with and how the trend has changed. One can clearly see the influence of Bollywood, western ballet as well as Indian folk music and dance in programmes based on rabindra sangeet. Use of keyboard as accompaniment in some cases changes the entire mood of the song. Both of us are trying to swim against the current in our effort to adhere to the tradition.

‘Bichitro Anondo’ - the programme I directed for Bengali Association Singpore in 2007 was an attempt to hold on to the beauty of the fast disappearing traditional 'Rabindrik' style, a distinct style created by Rabindranath Tagore. There are seven segments of Bichitro Anondo on YouTube of which the first two do not have dance items. This programme was a tribute to the two great personalities, Rabindranath and Nazrul. The backdrop was made from two batik sarees and some designs made on paper strips. The panel in front of the singers was made by pasting the designed paper strip on corrugated board that came with some packed item. It was made to stand by attaching it with wires to 2 l coke bottles filled with water. The dancers were dressed up simply with batik sashes hanging from the shoulder adds grace to the movement.
A typical Santiniketan style of dressing does not follow the contemporary fashion or trend. The blouse need not be the same shade as the saree. Instead,a blouse of a contrast colour with embroidered sleeves, makes the figure stand out which in turn add beauty to the movements. Flower is used as a substitute for ornaments.
Costume being an essential part of such productions, need careful planning. It is important to visualise the colour sequence choose the right colour suitable for the underlying idea of the song or the theme. It is also important to take into account the time available for dress change for the dancers. Getting sarees of the same colour and the same material for group dancers is not easy, specially in a place like Singapore. It is challenging to work under such conditions and exercise one's creative abilities to the fullest.
In 2006 I choreographed another dance drama by Tagore-Tasher Desh.The costumes were designed and created by me. I had to work within limited budget and hence recycling was an integral part of the costume.

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