september 9 2017
Jwala explores an image that is central to all cultures, both in daily life and in philosophy: The Flame. To me, the Flame is fascinating – strong, yet vulnerable. And it is this enigmatic quality that has given rise to this work. The same flame that burns is that which illuminates. It’s about saying good-bye and looking ahead, about release and hope, about shedding and seeking. The flame is a symbol that connects all the worlds, the cosmic, the temporal, the mythical, and the spiritual. As a dancer and a human being, negotiating the connection between these worlds intrigues me!
Jwala tries to envision “Flame” through the language of Bharata Natyam, a form which is incredibly codified in its gestural language and structure, but has tremendous scope for interpretation and creative liberty. This work is classical, yet experimental. The challenge has been in finding the technique to embody the various qualities of flame – from the aggressive and destructive fire, to the radiant and illuminating candle, from the blazing Sun that lights our Universe, to the inner flame that yearns for Liberation. This production is both incredibly personal and universal, and I look forward to sharing it with you all this evening.
Surya (the Sun)
Verses of Vedic hymn are interspersed with rhythmic passages in “Surya” which extols the powerful and dynamic qualities of the Cosmic Flame that illuminates the physical universe. Radiant is He, who drives across the sky in his seven-horse chariot, dispelling darkness. In His warmth, nature blooms and oceans are replenished. He is the eye of the Universe, enabling the cycles of creation, preservation, and destruction.
Music Composition: Debur Srivathsa
Dance Choreography: Mythili Prakash
Jwala (Rising Flame)
"Jwala" tells a story of life and death through the silent witness, the Flame.
"I am the flickering flame. As the raging fire, I burn. As the radiant lamp, I illuminate. I am both the funeral pyre and the lamp of auspiciousness. I witness death, loss, release. I witness birth, hope, new beginnings. And yet, I remain the ever-burning flame."
Lyrics: Subramanya Bharathi, Mahesh Swamy
Music Composition: Aditya Prakash
The dynamic, creative energy of the Universe is visualized as the Dancing Goddess, Shakti. When the heaviness of the worlds weighs upon us, she is the rising light of the spirit that lifts us. Like mother nurtures child, she ignites the tiny spark within each being, kindling the transformation toward illumination.
Lyrics: Subramanya Bharathi
Music Composition: Lalitha Sivakumar
Throughout the ages, mankind has experienced violence, oppression, and cruelty. Where is the hope in these times of darkness? Where is the light? Only in faith, says Poet Meera bai. Krishna, you are my beacon of light. Draupadi humiliated in the court of the Kauravas, Prahlada tormented by his father, Gajendera persescuted by the crocodile, where did they find strength? Only in surrender at your lotus feet.
Lyrics: Meera Bai
Through movement and abstraction, this piece embodies the burning yearning of the seeker. Piercing through veils, scaling new heights, peeling away temporal layers in the journey toward liberation, the seeker becomes the sought.
Lyrics: Hazrat Zaheen Taji
Music Composition: Muzafar Ali, Aditya Prakash
Concept and choreography: Mythili Prakash
Vocal and Music Composition: Aditya Prakash
Nattuvangam and Vocal: Ramya Sundaresan Kapadia
Mridangam: Rajna Swaminathan
Violin: Shiva Ramamurthi
Lighting Design: Eileen Cooley