Friday, June 24, 2011

My First Show in Rangashankara

Loonie Moonie

I met this cancerian RA after almost a year in Amrith Kalash. He was the one who introduced me to Mozart’s symphonies. I believe, some westerner listening to alapanais in carnatic music would feel the same – amusing, rather than soul stirring. He introduced me to Mecano – starting with ‘Hijo De La Luna’ and Russian – Kriknov Klinom Zhuravlinym (cry like cranes) last year. I had a moment of anger, reconciling with the Spanish song when I realized the Othello – Omkara like suspicion lingering in it.

So one evening, he shared some more foreign movies – French, Swedish, Chinese, Spanish and Polish, then I wondered, when I would have the time to watch them considering schedules. He suggested, why don’t we go to Rangashankara, but I was locked with PIs from 7-9 in koramangala, luckily nothing was slotted for that evening and so I said yes.

Our trip to Rangashankara

The whole day had been hectic with the prof’s work for which, I needed to go to the library, considering the wi-fi speed in the k-block. I reached 2 minutes late and AS sir along with his wife (who has done PhD in gynecology) bumped into us on the way. We sped away in sir’s car, which had child lock for the rear seats, so that meant, the prof or his wife had to open the door for us each time. We reached around 7:10 pm while the RA went about recollecting the drinking incident with VM sir for the Day 1 of 5 of the contemporary dance series. AS sir, kept on regaling us with his driving experiences in London and NY and how he would happily run over all those who shoved their vehicles, without following lane discipline and how he had actually run down a student on bike flat near the institute gate.

The Theatre Ambience

The crowd was pretty eclectic, couple of foreigners, gays (whom the RA was keen to point out), old classy aggies in casuals, MIT Sloan PhDs, my Theatre course instructor amongst others. There was a long queue leading up the curved black steps, while I took the lift and joined the three later in the hall. The screens were pitch black, with black speakers. After small talks, the announcement was that this was about the ‘reaction of the body.’

The performance by the Norwegian dancers

A lady dressed in casual parrot green and black shirt and pant, came in moving as if, she had an epileptic seizure at times. She flinged her hands and legs in every possible direction and moved all around the stage. Slowly the sounds of music trickled in, raising almost reaching a crescendo, and then meandering to various notes high and low. Slowly, another athletic lady joined in throwing her whole body in a reckless violence, falling now with a thud, moving her limbs as if she was trying to get up after an accident. There was a cute little nubile damsel with a bob cut, and another girl. Of the two guys, one was, constantly chewing a bubblegum on the stage, which was quite unbecoming. Once or twice there was some sort synchronization between a pair, which immediately dissolved into motley of mechanical, jerking movements.

The music died and the bubble gum guy, closed his eyes and started taking steps forward, almost tripping over the stage, when he suddenly said a loud piercing BOOM, that the crowd started sniggering. AS sir and his wife were continuously making loud comments ridiculing the whole thing, that many a times, my neighbour on the left started staring at sir.

The performers, changed tops in between. And a girl dressed in yellow came, acting as a puppet, pulling her own invisible strings. That was beautifully performed and her marionette like movements was quite amusing. Now, I know, why our theatre instructor made us do the things, we had to do in OAT. The lady who came in first acted as a bewildered leader while the rest followed her behind, trying to be nondescript. Casual interactions where everyone simply walks with great agility all over, quite close to each other, yet not touching each other and similar such theatre games.

In between some animal sounds were made, with the dancers, reacting as if they had been hurt, mauled and what not. Suddenly a shadow creature dressed like batman without the cape crept behind the performers, acting like their shadows.

After the show – 1 hr 10 minutes later

Once the show was over after 1 hr and 10 minutes on dot, the audience clapped while sir again made fun of the whole thing. He stated that he had to paid 200 rather 300 for watching this show. He said, he would come to Rangashankara again only after hearing at least 5 reviews. His first experience was ‘flowers’ apparently. This was the case of emperor’s clothes, where if you said, you didn’t like, you were not considered an intellectual.

Having learnt Bharatnatyam for 4 years, I simply love dance. I love watching the divinely melting, graceful movements of amazing dancers, brimming with bhavana. Of course, I do like energetic sensuous movements of Salsa or ethereal ballet, a belly/ hip dancing as well amongst other fast dances, but this was something, I was not quite used to. I don’t think I would spend time and money watching what they call contemporariness.

We had our dinner (ragi roti, akki roti, masala dosa, pineapple dosa, plain dosa) just opposite to Rangashankara where they were playing nice old hindi songs like mera jhutha hai japani. The waiter got us two ½ coffees even before we had finished our rotis but without sugar. So he got a replacement and did not charge for it in the final bill. AS sir started talking boisterously about abstract act, suggesting water as abstract coffee. The RA was saying how on day 1, the floor and the screen had Manhattan city streets being projected and how the solo performer had walked in the projected streets on stage. AS sir retorted that he could create a corporate finance course and just show only Manhattan pictures in it. Where was the action for the reaction to take place?

One thing, I had to admit, was their amazing body flexibility, halasanas amongst all other asanas that the Caucasians did seemingly with such an ease while trying to ‘react to something’ as they announced initially was really engaging. Sir dropped me back to campus and RA alighted past Shoppers Stop.

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