CHENNAI: As we enter the serene ‘spaces’ in Besant Nagar, we see a bunch of enthusiastic artists clad in their dancing attire rehearsing for the musical dance adaptation of a Spanish novel Don Quixote that is to be staged at Kalakshetra’s Suvritti: Traversing New Choreographies Festival. Directed and choreographed by Sheejith Krishna, scripted (theatre adaptation) by Akhila Ramnarayan and musical composition by Jyothishmathi Sheejith Krishna and Sai Shravanam of Sahrdaya Foundation, the adaptation is going to be a journey towards humanity.
What made them to adapt a 17th Century novel by Miguel Cervantes? “I read the novel when I was young and I liked how humane it was. Incidents are many and there is a lot to learn from this book. When we were discussing about titles for our production Akhila suggested Don Quixote and I readily agreed and that’s how the whole production fell into place,” says Sheejith. “This is a brilliant novel. It’s like a secular Mahabharata and has everything to do with humanity,” says Akhila.
In order to bridge the gap between the novel and the audience, she has used theatrical devices for narration. “The narration is a crucial aspect of storytelling. A contemporary chorus based on the ancient Greek practice to explain the significance, especially in the windmills episode was exciting,” she shares.
Shedding light on the choreography that was created over a span of one-and-a-half years, Sheejith clarifies that the base of the whole presentation will be rooted in bharatanatyam, with a touch of kathakali and even a bit of flamenco! “Bharatanatyam is my language, there is definitely a contemporary touch to it though. To show the mountains, kathakali is used as the main medium in the adaptation. It is detailed and poetical. I have used flamenco to bring the feel of Spain,” he shares.
Jyothishmathi broke out in an impromptu to sing the notes from the composition to show how the mountains, slopes, river and landscapes are depicted through slow, yet captivating music. “I am trained in Carnatic music and it was a real challenge to compose music for an adaptation that brings two soulful cultures together. It was all composed in episodes with help from Sai Sahravanam and Solomon,” she says.
A multi-genre showcase of traditions and arts of India, this adaptation was first premiered in Chennai in 2015 after which they toured the US, giving over 15 performances. “Ever since we started this production, we have been dreaming for a better world. We have realised there is a Don Quixote in each of us,” adds Akhila. Catch their performance at Rukmini auditorium in Kalakshetra Foundation on February 11 at 7pm.