After being a work in progress for almost 20 years, Samanvaya, a beautiful melange of two distinct classical Indian dance forms will finally grace Bangalore, tonight at Banyan Tree’s Splendor of Masters.
“What began almost 20 years ago, has finally evolved into something that we’re really proud of,” says Alarmel Valli, as we catch up with the danseuse over the phone.
“It all began when I was asked by the organisers of the Spirit Of Unity concert to perform a piece that brought together two Indian classical dance forms 20 years ago. I thought about it for a while and since Madhavi and I have always had the same outlook towards dance, I decided she’d be the perfect companion in this journey. We share a similar artistic and aesthetic value and also love the melody in dance and so we got together and decided to begin work on this meeting of two great dance forms,” explains Alarmel.
How were the initial rehearsals, we ask. “They were productive to say the least. But we decided to give ourselves enough time. We’d spend long hours in discussions and then rehearse, choreographing the piece right there and even after a four to five hour session, we’d probably have just two minutes of dance that we really liked. So, the journey has been tedious and it has required a lot of patience. But, we’re happy about what we have right now,” says Alarmel, indulging us.
Creating something as beautiful as the amalgamation of two styles can however be quite the challenge and so we ask Alarmel how the two artistes came about agreeing on things. “This wasn’t really an amalgamation. It was more of a meeting point. All through the performance I stay true to Bharatanatyam, while Madhavi continues to perform in Odishi. What we did do to create a sort of synchronisation was to use vocabulary that was similar in both the forms,” answers Alarmel.
“All the while, however, we were particularly careful to ensure a mellifluousness on stage. It is often annoying to an audience watching two performers on stage, especially when they’re performing to diverse styles — one is confused as to whom to pay attention to. We therefore choreographed the piece in such a way that this confusion does not arise. Almost all through the piece we will be dancing as one unit, therefore making the melange of the two styles more obvious,” she adds.
The piece has been performed on several occasions in the last few years, including its most recent revival, almost after a decade in 2004 for the Golden Jubilee of the Krishna Gana Sabha in Chennai and then later at the opening of the Maximum India Festival in Washington DC in 2011.
“The beauty of the piece lies in the fact that we’ve maintained visual harmony and ensured melody in dance and achieved an aural harmony too. This we have done without compromising our individual styles and ensured that we each have enough space and time to showcase our individual forms to. Bangalore has always been a great audience and so, I am sure, like every other time, though, they have been few — I will be welcomed by the city and hope to give them a great performance in return,” concludes the danseuse.
Banyan Tree’s Splendor of Masters will also feature the World Music Ensemble featuring Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Rakesh Chaurasia, Mohamed and Hamada Farghaly, Subhankar Banerjee and Ayman Boujlida.