Location: Montreal, Quebec
|Post title: Review of Dansjazz-ku
Posted: Thu 15 Jan, 2004 4:53 am
Friday 16th May to Sunday 18th May, 2003
Haiku Canada Meetat Leeds House,Carleton University,
Ottawa as part of Haiku and performing arts presentations.
also presented at the MAI as part of Tradition and Beyond 23rd May, 2003, at 8 pm
From left to right :Choreographer and Artistic Director Mamata Niyogi-Nakra,
dancer Jaya Srivastava, trumpettist Jason Selman, haiku-poet David Neudorfer
and dancer Santnu Chakraborty
â Vincent Warren*
Reprinted from SRUTI magazine, January 2002, Chennai, India, with permission from the publisher and the author.
A rare and highly successful fusion of art-forms from different cultures was achieved in Montreal recently (30 September 2001), by Bharatanatyam teacher Mamata Niyogi-Nakra, who, in collaboration with poet David Neudorfer and jazz trumpeter Jason Selman, created a sensitive work titled Dansjazz-ku, which delicately balanced diverse disciplines from both the Western and Asian cultures. It was presented as part of Kala Bharatiâs 20th anniversary celebration.Dancer Jaya Srivastava revealed another aspect of her Bharatanatyam training, interpreting through abhinaya the finely detailed thoughts expressed in evocative and succinct poetry written in the strict format imposed by the Japanese Haiku style.As is the tradition of Haiku, the poems were repeated twice, and after the spoken words, mellifluous sounds from the muted trumpet furnished the foundation on which Niyogi-Nakraâs visualization in movement was performed by Jaya Srivastava. The abhinaya used here asked for subtle gestures and facial expressions that she has not had the opportunity to show in her classical repertory. In these episodic poems she glowed with a golden warmth, supported by Selmanâs richly fluid melodic lines in pure jazz style. His music spiraled around the ideas put forward by the words delivered by Neudorfer in a simple and direct manner. This permitted the public to savour the sounds as well as the images, all based on nature: the seasons, snow, leaves, coldness, warmth, etc. A pastoral ambience was sustained by all the compositional elements: words, music and dance. It is difficult to fully describe the delicacy of these short pieces. Suffice it to say that a magical atmosphere of intimacy was created by all four artists involved in this creation, which surely marked a step forward for each of the participants.Niyogi-Nakra had earlier shown her involvement with poetry in her Seasonscape, for which she herself wrote a poem as the point of departure. In this newest experiment, abhinaya not only dominated the composition but was the sole means employed. However, she has not betrayed the principles of Bharatanatyam even in these short pieces. In fact she has shown the power of this dance-form to transcend cultural barriers and speak of moods and emotions common to all humanity. This work was first presented on 15 September 2001, during a festival of Haiku in the Japanese pavilion in Montrealâs Botanical Gardens, an ideal venue for such an intimate creation.
*Vincent Warren was formerly the âpremier danseurâ of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens of Montreal, and is at present Curator, BibliothĂšque de la Danse, lâĂcole supĂ©rieure de Danse du QuĂ©bec, in Montreal.
David (poet) : I didnât write any haiku specifically for dansjazz-ku. We selected ones that would be most suited for dance movements, from those I had already writtenâŠ. The haiku tradition has several rules that have to be followed, but it permits one to write in any language. I write in English.
(One of the haiku chosen for dansjazz-ku:
Landing in my book
the crowâs damn droppings)
Jason (musician): I do not consider what I play on my trumpet as something that can be called âmusical haikuâ. I try to translate the essence of the haiku and also the dance movement through my music âŠ Although there is improvisation in what I play, it is also based on listening to the haiku and seeing the dance movements.
Jaya (dancer): The dance movements I interpret are based on the structure as choreographed by Mme. Nakra, but depending on the moment I also improvise a bit. The ability to blend the three, haiku, jazz and Bharata Natya, as in dansjazz-ku, is limited only to the extent to which the creatorâs mind is capable of imagining. In this case, the creator is Mme Nakra, who has a lot of imagination âŠ I myself never thought this kind of fusion is possible, but she has shown me it is, with the help of the other artists.We have been able to achieve this while retaining our Indian Classical dance tradition (Bharata Natya), which has been a hallmark of Mme. Nakraâs creative process.
Mamata (Choreographer): I have written a few haiku myself. I, one day, wondered whether it is possible to capture the haiku moment through something as visual as dance.One thing which surprised me is that when I focussed on the haiku selected from some of the ones written by David, images appeared in my mind, as if by inspiration. In my process of creating, I always think of inspiration as being divine. It is that rare spiritual moment when all the elements converge to serve as a point of departure for the creation. With this group of artists I sensed this inspiration that led me to push the frontiers of haiku through dance.The above is based on an interview, originally in French, with Sophie Laurent, which was broadcast on Radio Canada (CBC), on September 13, 2001, in the programme âAux Arts Etc.â.
Santnu (dancer): interpreted the choreography of Mamata Niyogi-Nakra during the Spring of 2001, while the work was in progress.