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Friday, August 31, 2018


(Anita Ratnam. Pic by Robin Elam-Rye)

An enchanting yet evaluatory revisit to the story of Rama and Sita. (Review by Verne Rowin Munsamy)

From South India to South Africa, A Million Sitas forms part of the 2018 JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Festival.

The epic love story of Rama and Sita is one that most Hindus will recognise from the Ramayana. A love story forged through time about a Prince and Princess banished to the forests where the beautiful Sitas is kidnapped by the would-be evil King Ravana. Rama then has to defeat his half -brother to claim back his wife, not before she completes a chastity test.

A Million Sitas, a dance piece choreographed and danced by South Indian classical dancer Dr Anita Ratnam, is a classical dance drama that borrows from this triumphant story of love, to question and seek justice for some of the revered women in this tale of love, courage and war. Well-known in Chennai as a cultural speaker, performer and mentor, Ratnam extracts poignant moments to challenge our perceptions of female roles depicted in the sacred text.

The performance takes on both a classical Bharat Natyum flare fused with spoken word. The opening saw the Ratnam glide across the stage in a pink Lehnga skirt resembling a floating lotus flower. The expressive dance performance was faultless but what made this retelling of this version of the epic tale more appealing were the visuals created through simple costume changes and clever coatings of fabric. Three pieces of draped fabric were used to stunning effect to represent the separated sides of Rama and Ravana.

Each poignant female, whose justice in the story was unsettled, was depicted with much elegance and sophistication. We witnessed the birth of Sita (several versions), her timorous departure from the world of the moon to be beside her victorious husband Rama, as well as tangential segments of women like Manthra the bunch back, Alia the cursed beauty and Parvathi the Princess made from a frog.

This beautiful rendition is accompanied by live vocals by Saranya Krishnan with Mandla Matsha and Revash Dookhi on drums. This was an enchanting yet evaluatory revisit to this story of Rama and Sita. - Verne Rowin Munsamy

There is one more performance tonight (August 31, 2018) at 19h30 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Tickets at the door.