Pashyati: Shruthi Adelaide’s dance extravaganza

A unique dance production brings together all the different classical dance styles to tell an amazing tale

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In a unique dance production entitled Pashyati: The Looking, cultural organisation Shruthi Adelaide achieved the near-impossible.

It brought together several dance schools, across the many different dance styles of India, to collaborate for a rare dance-drama.

The production told the tale of a blind girl, showing her emotions and colours she has never seen in the past, helping her understand a world on the outside and connecting it to her inner spiritual being.

Pashyati (which is a Sanskrit term meaning to see, to behold, or to observe) has at its centre the young girl Prabha, who was born without sight. She learns of the world around her through the eyes of her two close friends who attribute all the wonderful creations in the world to the Supreme Being. As Prabha grows up, she questions the assumptions and existence of Divinity. One day in the Temple she cries and laments to the Supreme about her misfortune. Suddenly she gains sight and sees everything around her.

She sees trees and animals, river and rainfall and joyous celebrations… all very ably performed by students of the various dance schools. In this blissful state she sees the sculptures in the temple come alive and dance the dances of emotions.

The dances were superbly choreographed and very well performed by the teachers or senior students. Two emotions were shown by two dancers and moved from positive to negative and back to positive in fluid expansion. For example, Peace and Hostility was depicted in Odissi by Vithya Karthi and Hima Shylaja; Grief and Joy was performed by Suranya (Kathak) and Chrispa (Bharatanatyam). This was an amazing amalgamation by the two young dancers.

Fear and Trust was a superb performance in Mohiniattam by Akhila Sashidhar and Sujitha Menon. Akhila’s depiction of fear and then the story of Draupadi Vastraharan and implicitly trusting Krishna to save her was exceptional!

There was also Love and Anger (Bharatanatyam) by Sangeetha and Shraddha; Shame and Pride (Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi) by Prashanthi Kapila and Sweta Balakrishna; Boredom and Surprise by Somi Lindsay and Kenga Devi, and Disgust and Admiration by Daksha Swaminathan, Nithiya and Shruthika Vijayakumar performing Kuchipudi, Kathak and Devanrithyam.

Each of these emotions was paired with a particular colour, and the resulting stage show was exceptional.

Now to get back to the story of Pashyati. At the end of this spectacular depiction and all the new knowledge she gained, Prabha forgets herself in bliss and faints. When she wakes up, she realizes she cannot see. But now she has understood the ways of the Divine and is a calm and matured Prabha – as she has seen what needs to be seen.

Prabha was portrayed by two dancers – Navanitha as the younger Prabha and Karpagha-Vreksha as the teenager. Both were a delight to watch. Karpagha’s facial expressions were perfection.

Given there were 46 dancers in all, they are too many to name here but every single one of them gave a stellar performance.

The concept, story and direction, were by Srirama Srinivasan. He was ably supported by Sangeetha Venkitt who danced, taught, coordinated 6 different dance schools of Adelaide, organised rehearsals…. truly a marathon job.

The sutradhar Prishay ended the show with these words:  “We are all blind many times in our various stages of maturity. If we look at it from a philosophical point of view, most of us are blind. We see but we do not look. If we look further within ourselves though, we observe the sight, the vision and then the Truth. At that stage we won’t need the physical eye as what we observe is beyond our sight. And we continue to see…. Pashyati.”

Shruthi Adelaide has surpassed itself and created a new benchmark in a dance show. To get dancers of a professional level, from different genres, to dance together is in itself an achievement. To put together a professional production like Pashyati, was a great accomplishment.

It is what the arts is about: Divinity in our (almost unseeing) day-to-day lives.

pashyati team
The team behind Pashyati (Image: Stephen Watts)

READ ALSO: Sringaram by Sydney’s Rasana Dance Theatre

Vinaya Rai
Vinaya Rai
Vinaya Rai is a counsellor by profession with interests in writing, radio, emcee'ing, organising and attending events.

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