Dancer Praveen Kumar’s new work focuses on environment

Praveen Kumar’s new production ‘Rtu – Vismurti’ attempts to address the issue of climate change

Strong concept, seamless music, skilful lighting, and well-choreographed movements, every aspect of Praveen Kumar’s new production ‘Rtu – Vismurti’ (Seasons Forgotten), commissioned and presented by Colorado Fine Arts Association, was brilliantly woven together.

The work focused on the contemporary issue of climate change and its effects on human lives through Kalidasa’s masterpiece Rtusamhara, where the seasons are used as metaphor to express human emotions and portray flora and fauna. The production travels across time by presenting scenes from a bygone era and from the present. And in the process talks about the damage we have done to the environment.

The music synchronised beautifully with the hand gestures. For instance, the dancer opened each finger to a swara to depict a lotus in full bloom, bees hovered to the sound of the morsing, and birds flew to the melody of the flute. R. Raghuram’s musical score enhanced the visual experience in full.

“Once I zeroed in on the idea, the musicians and I had several sessions of discussion before we arrived at what worked best for each sequence. The whole process was extremely enjoyable,” said Praveen. Besides the lyrics chosen from Rtusamhara, additional script and composition were by Arjun Bhardwaj.

Praveen also made good use of the digital platform, interpolating images of the poet writing or questioning the elements with dance movements in the same frame. “Unlike a physical performance, you need to think of the perfect angles, close-ups, editing, juxtaposing images, and more. So you have to work in close association with the cameraperson and editor (Arjunjith). T.Nagaraj’s lighting design highlighted the mood of the sequences.

Well-imagined poses

The nritta segments were marked by clarity, grace and well-imagined poses. The musical ensemble was led by R. Raghuram, whose bhava-filled singing was engrossing. On the flute was Mahesh Swamy and on the mridangam and morsing was Lingaraj. Hemalatha was on the cymbals.

‘Rtu – Vismurti’ was an engaging performance that stood out for its visual imagery, but the subject of climate change and its impact needs to be handled in a more dramatic manner, and that’s one reason why it didn’t quite strike a chord emotionally.

The Chennai-based reviewer writes on classical dance.

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