Artwork around the Palk Strait
The wealthy cross-border collaboration and trade between Sri Lanka and India has been halted by way of the pandemic
Yazhpanam P.S. Balamurugan needed to cancel just about a dozen performances in India closing 12 months, after the pandemic made it unattainable to shuttle from Jaffna, the place he lives, in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province.
“I participated in some on-line occasions, and in some other example recorded a efficiency right here and shared it with organisers there, however there’s not anything like a are living efficiency in entrance of an keen target audience,” says the nagaswaram artiste, who has a often rising fan base in south India.
Those that heard him play Charukesi at a Chennai live performance over two years in the past have neither forgotten the rendition nor been in a position to realize different Charukesis since, with out being reminded of his. The powerful sound emanating from his wind software, sustained by way of lengthy, complete breaths, brimming with lifestyles and emotion, casts a spell on audiences.
For Sri Lankan artistes like him, acting in India defied the standard logistical headaches of going in a foreign country. The rather pleasant visa regime, innumerable flight choices, and the quick shuttle time — a Colombo-Chennai flight takes not up to an hour, and a Jaffna-Chennai flight was once presented in 2019 — made shuttle quite easy. “I will’t wait to shuttle and carry out there once more as soon as borders open up,” says Balamurugan.
Kandyan dance exponent and guru Upeka Chitrasena has carried out the world over, however the target audience in India, particularly Chennai, is “one thing else,” she says. “Rows and rows of aged other people and kids take a seat thru performances, preserving taal and responding with spontaneous applause after they like one thing. It’s uncommon to look that kind of engagement and keenness.”
Collaboration with Nrityagram
The more potent magnet pulling her, then again, is a few 370 km clear of Chennai. When she says she dearly misses India, she way she misses Nrityagram, the Odissi dance village close to Bengaluru that has been 2d house for the famend Sri Lankan artiste since 2003. That is the longest she has been away, for the reason that she generally makes 5 or 6 journeys a 12 months. “I finished acting in 2011 and simplest educate now, so seeing dancers at Nrityagram be informed and rehearse provides me the power of my very own efficiency days,” she says.
Artistes from the Colombo-based Chitrasena Dance Corporate, named after Upeka’s father, Sri Lanka’s pioneering Kandyan dance exponent, and the Nrityagram team were taking part for a decade now. Two productions, ‘Samhara’ (2012) and ‘Ahuti’ (2019), convey the 2 very other however delightfully complementary traditions, Kandyan and Odissi, in dialog. The pandemic supposed that the 2 teams ignored some joint efficiency excursions closing 12 months, however they’ve stayed in contact all the way through. Their lengthy skilled and inventive collaboration has birthed treasured friendships — like Chitrasena’s with Nrityagram’s inventive director and Odissi exponent Surupa Sen. A number of journeys around the Palk Strait from each side, each deliberate and impromptu, have reinforced those ties.
It was once 2019; artistes from the 2 dance colleges have been rehearsing for ‘Ahuti’ in Bengaluru. Surupa had casually discussed to Chitrasena’s inventive director, Heshma Wignaraja, and foremost dancer, Thaji Dias [both Chitrasena’s nieces], how pretty it will be to have Upeka Chitrasena for Guru Poornima the next day to come. “I were given a choice on a Saturday night from my nieces about this. And by way of five p.m. on Sunday, I used to be at Surupa’s doorstep, unexpected her. I will not fail to remember her expression when she noticed me there,” says Chitrasena, including: “Such a lot of memorable rehearsals, performances, conversations, and birthdays in combination — I omit all of the ones!” Her mom, the senior Kandyan dance exponent, choreographer and guru, Vajira Chitrasena, was once selected for the Padma Shri award in India closing 12 months, however the pandemic supposed she may just now not shuttle to New Delhi to obtain the distinction.
Colombo-based Bharatanatyam artiste and trainer Thivya Sujen has had other causes to move Tamil Nadu annually. If she was once now not taking her Abhinayakshetra College of Dance’s productions there, she was once visiting to paintings at the tune rating. “It was once our honour to collaborate with composers like Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan and Rajkumar Bharathi for our productions. I might spend a few fortnight there for the recordings,” she says.
Thivya additionally took her scholars who have been making ready for his or her maiden degree efficiency to Chennai for the photoshoots and to get their costumes carried out. However what the dancer misses maximum is visiting her guru, C.V. Chandrasekhar, the veteran Bharatanatyam exponent. She were particularly having a look ahead to assembly him on his 85th birthday closing Might, however shuttle was once close down. She determined to mark the instance in Sri Lanka by way of putting in the World Affiliation of Sri Lankan Bharatanatyam Artistes, a platform bringing in combination performers and academics who have been pressured to depart the rustic all over the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983. She additionally organised on-line lectures with Indian artistes, reminiscent of Priyadarsini Govind, and started a digital ‘Nattuvangam’ path, once more periodically roping in Indian artistes. “I consider the connection between artistes of Sri Lanka and India should proceed on-line till we will meet once more in particular person,” she says.
“Nobody anticipated this kind of damage,” says ‘Kambavarithy’ Ilankai Jeyaraj, a famend Tamil student, who based and helms the Kamban Kazhagam in Sri Lanka. Instead of ceaselessly travelling to India to take part in literary meets or to ship lectures — on occasion even 5 instances a month — Jeyaraj has been a major pressure bringing senior Indian artistes and students to Sri Lanka annually. The Kamban Kazhagam’s ticket-free arts gala’s, held in Colombo and Jaffna, are recognized for the massive crowds they draw. Their closing competition was once in early 2020, when playback singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam was once honoured.
“We have now invited Indian artistes because the mid-1990s, and over time they’ve constructed a unique bond with audiences right here. They keep in our houses, devour with us, spend time with us… simplest such robust relationships constructed through the years can courageous an remarkable state of affairs like this pandemic,” says Jeyaraj.
Along side its department in Australia, the Colombo Kamban Kazhagam held its literary meet on-line and has additionally begun sharing movies from its archives on its site. In the meantime, Jeyaraj is remotely running with musician Bombay Jayashri, a normal and much-loved performer in Colombo and Jaffna, on an album of devotional verses.
Each artistes and audiences are “craving for interplay,” Jeyaraj says, hoping a bodily competition would possibly change into imaginable this 12 months.