Footprints in Blood – Manipuri by Bimbavati Devi and Manipuri Nartanalaya and Manasa by Subhajit Khush Das & Bhagavathy Nane – Kuchipudi by Sreelakshmy Govardhanan.
Footprints in Blood:
This production has taken its inspiration from the momentous feminist revolutions by the Meitei women and does not have any resemblance with anyone living or dead, past or present. It does not directly or indirectly cast aspersions on any particular community, creed or sect of the Manipuri (especially Meitei) society. The dance and music is inspired by the traditional and ritualistic performing art forms of Manipur and have been modified to suit a dance choreography.
It is an artistic blend of three stories of fiery suffragette uprisings of Manipur. The first story is about the 2nd Nupi Lan (Women’s War) that occurred in 1939. The second description is of the bold Meira Paibis (torch bearers) of Manipur. Till date they march along the streets at dusk with flaming torches in their hands and raise their voices against various forms of social injustice like domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and violation of human rights. The last story is about the historic nude protest by a group of women in 2004 against the heinous rape and murder of a suspected terrorist named Thangjam Manorama by the so called the ‘protectors of the state’. These uncompromising women have been compared to the warrior goddess Panthoibi (akin to Durga) who represents, among other things, courage.
Bimbavati Devi, a gifted performer of Manipuri dance, along with artistes of Manipuri Nartanalaya- Kolkata gives you an audio-visual extravaganza, bringing forth the creative essence of Manipuri dance. She is the disciple and daughter of Guru Bipin Singh and Kalavati Devi.
Do you know her? She is the daughter of Mahadeva and yet She had to prove herself to become a deity of the Hindu pantheon. Indian folklore and folk culture have always built a bridge between the Gods, Goddesses and us humans. Especially in Bengal, we often see the Devis are treated like their own daughter, a part of their family. In different parts of Bengal, we often find Devis who are not mentioned in Vedas. Manasa is such a Devi from the folklore of Bengal. There are many versions of Manasa. In this presentation, Subhajit Khush Das has taken verses from Bijay Gupta’s Padma Purana. This is a neo-classical presentation taking inspiration from Bharatanatyam, Mayurbhanj Chhau and other folk dances of Bengal like Bou naach and keertan.
Every single soul is stirred in their path of realising one’s own self.
Be it through dance, ritualistic practices or even our life by itself, it is a journey that ultimately leads to knowing thyself. This choreography, invoking the Goddess, juxtaposes the travel of a soul towards their eventual convergence knowing I am not separate from the Goddess herself.
I visualise this narrative as a travel of an artist as well. You find everything outside you, worship that, practice that and feed on that, only to realise at some point that you need to evolve.
One by one, one step at a time, evoking her own ‘soul’ and ‘self’, nevertheless numerous questions and struggles attempt to block her in this process of evolution again.
So, here she is on the verge of evoking the madness in her, truth in her, love and spirit in her, the essence of her. Finally, she takes her trident and with all the power to push away the arising conflicts and asserts her rights. Centuries of baggage weighs her down. She dances and in the end, there is The Silence.
Sreelakshmy Govardhanan is an accomplished Indian classical dancer of Kuchipudi. Based out of Kerala, she has created her space in the Kuchipudi world by dint of her immense talent and unrelenting hard work.
Sreelakshmy is the disciple of Pasumarthy Rattaiha Sarma, a maestro in Kuchipudi Yakshagana. He has been the guiding light for Sreelakshmy in her journey to master the fine traits of the pure form of Kuchipudi.
She has been involved in conceiving and executing many dance related workshops, classes, seminars, lecture demonstrations and events.
Sreelakshmy is the founder and artistic director of the Avantika Space for Dance, a centre for learning, performance and research.
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