If a dancer is known to explore the space around her with various movement patterns with the help of her body, as unusual a parallel as it may seem, buildings do the same thing with domes, pillars, walls and other structures. In short, the connection between art, dance in particular, and architecture is not something one would even remotely think about, and is more united than one might imagine. Exploring this unconventional relationship with the help of one of the most conventional forms of dance – Bharatanatyam – is Singapore-based dance troupe Apsara Arts.
Performing their production Nirmanika - The Beauty of Architecture in the city recently, Apsara Arts brought to the fore, the beauty of the architecture of Indian heritage structures through their avant-garde choreography.
Staying true to Bharatanatyam’s graceful expression, Nirmanika touched upon the concepts of geometry, space, structure, form, philosophy and not to forget history through interwoven stories, in five distinctively-choreographed pieces.
The alarippu, traditionally the first piece of the performance which is used by the dancers to pay respects to god, was effectively used in showcasing the agile grace of the dancers on stage. Once the audience was accustomed to the level of talent they were going to witness over the next two hours or so, the dancers took it up a notch with a vibrant discovery of three famous Indian monuments — the Konark Temple in Orissa, Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai and the Taj Mahal.
With an opening formation of Surya, the sun god, on his chariot — one of the trademark representations of the Konark Temple, the dancers formed concentric circles to depict the rising and setting of the sun. With help from the lighting and precise synchronised movements, the elegant girls took the audience on a journey through the bold and vivacious architecture of the landmark structure.
The dancers worked as a closely knit group in the piece dedicated to the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, portraying the gopurams, intricate architecture and lotus flowers. And in the piece illustrating the magnificence of the Taj Mahal, they seamlessly moved around the stage to weave a story, with their pristine white pieces of cloth effortlessly trailing behind.
Attention to detail in the choreography was what elevated the choreography to a whole new level of sophistication, be it in movements as simple as rising from the floor or forming a symbolic pattern on stage.
A definite highlight of the production was the energetic representation of the Borobudur Buddhist temple in Indonesia.