Terrific Triguna!

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Melbourne dancer Sam Goraya presents an outstanding Odissi recital all for a good cause

Photo: Zlatko Varenina

Melbourne-based Odissi dancer Dr Sam Goraya recently held ‘Triguna’, an Odissi dance recital to raise funds for renowned Indian reformist Kiran Bedi’s India Vision Foundation. The sell-out concert was held at Malthouse Theatre in Southbank. The event raised nearly $4500 for the foundation.

The India Vision Foundation operates within jails, helping to give inmates skills in business. Inmates manage projects, the profits of which are put into inmate welfare funds, education and rehabilitation projects for children of prisoners, and projects in the city slums.

Projects like Weaving Behind Bars (WBB) and the Crèche Project are driven by IVF from within the Central Prison at Tihar, in India, and aim to increase the employability of incarcerated women and provide support and nurturing to their young ones.

Triguna turned out to be a visually appealing harmony of the physical, mental and spiritual as Sam Goraya executed the concept through a continuum of dancing.

The three primordial forces of Satva, Rajas and Tamas were well justified by Sam’s selection as he presented his recital with flawless technique.

The three Gunas are essential energies of the mind, and an equilibrium is desired between the motion and stimulation of Rajas, lightness and consciousness of Satwa and resistance and power of Tamas. Sam portrayed the concept of Triguna with intrinsic passion and dignity both in movements and expression.

Demonstrating the aesthetic sensitivity to select the best of Odissi, Sam’s choreography reflected hours of rigorous practise and above all an intellectual approach to the possibilities of his dance style.

Photo: Zlatko Varenina

The highlight for Sam was the presence of his parents who flew in from New Zealand to attend Triguna. It was an emotional moment for Sam and his parents, as they had never had the opportunity to experience any of Sam’s live stage performances prior to this recital.

Sam started his initial training in Odissi with his mother Kirpal Kaur Goraya when he was five years old. He credits her for teaching him the basics and conventional framework of this classical dance

Sam has trained under renowned Odissi exponents like Padmashree Madhavi Mudgal at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in New Delhi and Dr Chandrabhanu in Melbourne. More recently, Monica Singh, a Visharad in Odissi and a senior disciple of Madhavi Mudgal, has also guided Sam though his dance journey. She encouraged Sam to add some of Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra’s rare items into his repertoire.

“This is the first time I felt complete by presenting Triguna as I researched all the material, put it all together in an easy to understand flow for a general audience in a very simple language,” said Sam.

“I gave my interpretation to the dances created by Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra and finally choreographed the last Shloka for my Moksha. I have never felt this content ever through dancing,” he continued.

“I am so thankful to all my gurus for teaching this lovely art form especially Chandrabhanu who taught me how to use that masculine energy. I will always have very high respects for my Mum, Madhavi Mudgal, Chandranbhanu and Monica,’’ he said.

Sam used the artistic space in Malthouse Theatre with athletic elegance as he negotiated the gestures, nuances and curves peculiar to Odissi. The vivid imagery of Sam’s dance inundated the intimate venue. Through his adaptation of Odissi pieces like Durga Stuti, Moksha, Priya Charushile he effectively communicated to the audience the sentiments behind the various compositions.

One moment he was the flirtatious Krishna appeasing his beloved, the next he was the fiercely agile goddess Durga slaying the demon Mahisasura. The pure movement Pallavi was presented well and so was Ahe Neela based on the devotional song written by 17th century Muslim poet Salabeg who was Lord Jaganath’s most ardent devotee.

The piece de resistance, however, was the traditional culmination of Odissi recital the Moksha, where Sam performed in a fast tempo. It was an ecstatic performance in total surrender to the liberation of the soul.

Photo: Zlatko Varenina

During the two hour recital Sam displayed a quality of movement and stamina found only in those who love dance and savour music. The thunderous applause and standing ovation at the end of his performance was very well deserved.

After the event Sam mingled with the large number of friends and family who were present to support him. Speaking to Indian Link, Sam said, “I would like to be better every year and more refined with time and age. I know no one can ever be perfect but as long as I could take even one person in the audience with me to the journey that I take in my mind and soul, I feel I have achieved my goal.”

“To me dancing is like a sadhana (method for receiving attainments) that takes years. In other words, through dancing you control your senses mind, body, limbs and feelings. It is a form of a Yog (Merger of individual soul to divine),” he said.

Sam’s recital was complemented with abstract artwork from Elena Berkovich and Josie Wadelton. The marketing, promotion and behind the scenes work was handled by Zlatko Varenina. Arjun Raina provided the commentary.

Sam Goraya, who has completed four masters degrees as well as a PHD in Mathematics and Oceanography, won kudos for his entertaining interpretation within the traditional boundaries of his art, all for a good cause.