Saturday, 31 May 2008

Exploring Each Others' Cultures

Malaysia is a land of confusion.

We cannot decide if we want to tikam some dude on the street with a keris for supposedly infringing on special rights or if we want to explore his culture further.

Evidently, the folks I bumped into yesterday preferred the amicably docile celebration of each others' cultures.

It was an odissi dance performed by 3 men - Ramli Ibrahim, Ajit Das and Rahul Varshney. Odissi originated around 200BC in India.

The cultural scions of Malaysian society will probably know that Ramli Ibrahim is no Indian. He doesn't remotely look like one. But he puts up a mean display of Indian dance.

I looked around at my fellow audience. It was then that it occured to me - the Chinese, Malays and Caucasians outnumbered the Indians by 4 to 1.

All the female volunteers, regardless of race (and there was quite a mixed bunch), were dressed in a saree.

I didn't know whether to be stunned or pleased. Or confused.

But I finally decided on contentment. Malaysia is coming of age.


KLConfidential said...

You actually went?!!! Lucky you. I REALLY want to go! But no money la...

I'm a 'broken' girl.

Isk. :( Maybe next time.

Crankshaft said...

Yeppers! My friend knew someone, so we made bookings last minute. It was great, though we had to sort of squeeze into the amphi-sutra.

Nalina Nair said...

Hi. I'm involved in the Stirring Odissi. I'm the assistant light designer. It's nice to know that we have people who are interested :) The female performances are going on in MTC now, group performances will go on in KLPac next week. Hope to see you there!

Crankshaft said...

Hi Nalina :)

Nice to have you drop by. There are definitely a lot of people interested in Odissi.

I would love to come for the group performances. Will see what I can do.

Siryn said...

Hi crankshaft, I just saw your comment on my Odissi Notes blog.

Yes, I watched a few performances... gotipua (utterly, amazingly acrobatic), male dancers (the night guruji Ramli performed) and female dancers (on the nights January Low, and Nishah Devi & Tan Mei Mei performed). I also went for the Stirring Odissi art exhibition launch at Galeri Petronas, where Madhavi and Arushi Mudgal did an absolutely gorgeous duet.

And yes, it feels good when you look around during a show and see people of many different races in the audience... all drawn by the magic of Odissi. :)

Did you go for any of the group performances? I couldn't make it to any as I'd gone abroad.

Nithya said...

Hello there. I'm a student at Sutra. Just wanted to thank you all for the support. You have no idea how hard it was to push the tickets. Looks like we've been pushing at the wrong places. ;)

And Siryn, the group performances were mind blowing. Nothing short of sheer awesomeness. Ramli is timeless. And I'm a proud student. =)

Crankshaft said...

Lucky you, Nithya. :)

My family leans heavier on the bharatanatyam side though. Two of my cousins are having their arangetram soon.

Siryn said...

I was a student at Sutra until recently too :) Stopped because I'm moving abroad. Hopefully I'll be able to find an Odissi teacher where I'm going, but I don't think it'll be easy to find a guru remotely like Ramli (or the dancers who teach at Sutra, for that matter)! I'll always be grateful to Ramli and Sutra for sharing with me the magic of Odissi.