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 Merging into the Ultimate, via Sharon's Odissi

 

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  CHANDIGARH, Aug 4:

Rathi A Menon

Odissi has always provided this experience of being one with the Ultimate, and Sharon Lowen, during a chat with the Chandigarh Newsline highlighted this metaphysical journey of an Odissi dancer. But, this evening, it turned out to be an exploration not only for her, but for her viewers too.

Odissi has always provided this experience of being one with the Ultimate, and Sharon Lowen, during a chat with the Chandigarh Newsline highlighted this metaphysical journey of an Odissi dancer. But, this evening, it turned out to be an exploration not only for her, but for her viewers too.

Sharon, the American-born Indianised danseuse whose tryst with both India and Odissi began two decades ago, brought out the message of togetherness and brotherhood as the Golden Jubilee celebrations of our independence entered the fourth day.

She commenced the recital with Suryakant Tripathi Nirala's famous poem, `Varade', which is an invocation to Saraswati but Sharon expanded it a further to delineate the `freeing of shackles, both politically and spiritually'. Keeping with the theme, she concluded with the famous bhajan of Mahatma Gandhi's, `Vaisnava jana ko'. "We should not be cynical about what Gandhiji had taught for we need it for the next 50 years too,''she said.

From this theme of esprit de corps, Sharon suddenly lifted up the audience to the Ultimate Reality when she danced to the Omkarakarini, a composition by the musical genius, Dr Balamuralikrishna. Her postures and expressions could transmute the bliss of merging with the Om.

The ease and elan with this disciple of Kelucharan Mohapatra did the dance of the `tribhanga' induced a lyrical quality into each of her dexterous and delicate movements, in the same vein as her vocalist Bankim Sethi could.

That Sharon had found her inner peace through Odissi was evident from her recital for she could instil the same peace into her viewers. If in the Pallavi, Sharon could stick to the essence, which is said to be akin to the blooming of a bud, as the dance form blossomed into its entirety through paced motion, her depiction of Meera bhajan, which shows her as a wife pining for her husband, was more like the total surrender to the Self. And her expressions could make goose pimples appear on the enrapt spectators.

But the piece de resistance of the evening was the Dasavatar. The lines from Jayadeva's `Geet Govind' found meaning in Sharon's swiftly moving expressions and by the time she reached the last `avatar' Kalki, the audience were transported onto a different mindscape altogether. Sharon's accompanying artists also did not let down either her or the audience though at times one wished to hear more from the flautist Rajkishore Dal Behera.

Her `taal' got matched with Prafulla Mangaraj's Pakhawaj and her depiction had the base of both Manjira and `tarana' by Ram Chandra Sahu.  

 

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