TORONTO: Dr Menaka Thakkar, a renowned dance virtuoso from Toronto, will be staging the famous dance drama Chitra - Warrior Princess — an original choreography in Bharatanatyam and Odissi dance styles inspired by a play by Rabindranath Tagore.
The dance drama has travelled to may Canadian provinces and will be returning to Toronto to be staged at the Markham Theatre of Performing Arts on June 24. The performance will combine the dance styles of Bharatanatyam and Odissi with the movement vocabulary of South India’s martial art, Kallari Payattu to create a new ground-breaking production from Canada’s most innovative choreographer of classical Indian dance.
“This is different from my previous works as it combines two dance forms,” says Dr. Thakkar. The story of Chitra is taken from a play from Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore who had adapted his play from Mahabharata.
Tagore’s version interprets the story of Chitra to be a woman’s search for identity and self-definition and a breaking out of the traditional roles into which she has been cast.
Chitra – Warrior Princess tells the story of a princess and heir to the throne of Manipur who is raised by her parents as a male child. Chitra is a strong and powerful leader and is quite happy with manly pursuits until she meets the legendary warrior and prince Arjuna, in the forest and falls in love.
Dr Thakkar has developed a choreography that will employ Bharatanatyam, using this sharp-angled, more masculine form of dance to portray the masculine Chitra.
During the scenes when Chitra has been transformed into a feminine beauty her movements will be performed in Odissi style which will use this more rounded and curved feminine dance style.
This combining of two very different classic dance styles is most unusual in Indian dance and can only be accomplished by a choreographer with Dr Thakkar’s expertise.
For dance enthusiasts, this is a rare opportunity to see Dr Thakkar performing both Bharatanatyam and Odissi with the ease and precision that only a master dancer can achieve.