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A Tuscan odissi Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 December 2008 23:46

Ramli Ibrahim.
Ramli Ibrahim.

“IMAGES of a Tuscan Odissi” is a photographic exhibition by Paul Heath at the Sutra Gallery in Kuala Lumpur from Dec 5 to 30.

Jointly presented by Sutra Dance Theatre founder Ramli Ibrahim and British photographer Heath, the exhibition follows Sutra’s acclaimed Spellbound World Tour 2008, which culminated in a performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall in the United States.

“Images of a Tuscan Odissi” features photographs of Sutra’s tour in Florence, Italy and the medieval villages of Trequanda and San Giovanni D’Asso nearby.

They are some of the most evocative images of the tour, which was sponsored by Malaysian Airlines.

“Whether against a backdrop of the rolling pastoral hills of Tuscany, ancient walls of long abandoned dwellings or crowded Florentine piazzas, the Sutra dancers strike a compelling and harmonious presence.
“The dancers, wearing beautiful Odissi costumes, look as if they have always belonged there,” Heath said. 

According to Ramli, Heath’s artistic senses were clearly stimulated by Odissi’s sensuousness and his new found love of this Indian classical dance, for which Sutra has become famous.

“This is palpable in his pictures. Paul captures brilliantly and uniquely the timeless spirit of both the dance and Tuscany.

Ramli said Sutra’s Italian tour was the inspiration of distinguished Malaysian artist Yeoh Jin Leng.

“It started in Florence where the Sutra dancers resorted to a medieval ruse.

“Immediately prior to the performance, they descended in full regalia from the palace to the packed piazzas below and, sometimes posing against ancient statues or flirting with street artistes, made a slow and sinuous walk through the city centre, bells a-jingling. This caused a sensation,” he said.

The dancers led a delighted but curious throng back to the hall.

Salone Brunelleschi was packed and, captivated by the celestial dancers who had descended suddenly into their midst, the audience gave the performance a rapturous ovation.

A final concert at Cavargine, San Giovanni d’Asso — the farmhouse of Heath — included both classical and modern Indian dances together with a magnificent feast cooked by Sutra’s technical director, Sivarajah Natarajan.

“The highlight of the evening was the performance of our dancers as the incarnations of Bacchus, at the edge of the infinity pool against the panoramic backdrop of quintessential Tuscan hills,” said Heath.

“For me, the exhibition marks an auspicious welcome to Kuala Lumpur, where I expect to take up residence under the Malaysia My Second Home programme later this year,” he added. 

“It was really tremendous having the Sutra dancers tour in Tuscany and a privilege to exhibit my photographs at the venues alongside Yeoh’s wonderfully expressive Odissi drawings.

“Classical Indian dance styles, philosophy, photography or remote regions visited by Yeoh were discussed long into the night. Overriding it all was a strong sense of artistic energy and purpose, as we all strove together to achieve a successful tour,” he added.

The gallery is in Persiaran Titiwangsa 3, Taman Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur. Time: 10am to 5pm (except Sundays). Call 03-4021-1092 (office hours).


Source:  NST Online

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