By Anne Das
Special thanks to Steve Tan for selected photographs.
Last weekend, the rhythmic enchantment of Jaya Ram, Sutra Foundation’s captivating Odissi production, illuminated the Bukit Merah Wood Factory in Lahat. Across two spellbinding nights, Jaya Ram took centre stage, emerging as the true protagonist, leaving an indelible mark on a diverse and captivated audience.
In celebration of tradition and innovation, Jaya Ram transported its audience into a realm where dance metamorphosed into a powerful narrative.
Founded in 1983 by the ‘enigmatic’ Padma Shri Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, Sutra Dance Theatre has stood as a pillar of Malaysian performing arts. Jaya Ram not only received accolades and rave reviews, it cemented the status of Sutra Foundation as a force in the global dance and arts scene under the leadership of Ramli.
Positioned as Sutra’s biggest Odissi production, Jaya Ram has since toured the world, in particular to India to perform and had the privilege to open the prestigious Konark Festival 2022 in Odisha. Jaya Ram was also invited to perform at the Delhi International Dance Festival last December and the Khajuraho Dance Festival 2023.
Under the skilled direction of Ramli Ibrahim and Guru Gajendra Kumar Panda (Tridhara, Odisha), Jaya Ram unfolds the timeless narrative of Rama, weaving through episodes of love, battles, and reunion. The intricacies of Odissi, with all its symbolic gestures, conveyed profound emotions and has mesmerised audiences all over the globe.
The dancers, both seasoned and budding, held the audience captive from the moment they graced the stage. Their intricate movements, synchronised choreography, and expressive facial gestures showcased not only their dedication but also their immense talent.
The performance guided the audience through a captivating odyssey, featuring intense battles, romance, amusing sketches, and skilful portrayals of animals and beasts. Each dancer fascinatingly replicated the essence of every creature through the art of dance.
The Red Mountain Wood Factory burst into life, pulsating with the electrifying fusion of lights, haunting vocals, and the rhythmic cadence of drums. The superb projection onto the actual wooden-carved backdrop, coupled with the expert lighting by Sivarajah Natarajan, created an almost ethereal sensation. Colours, movements, and expressions transformed each step into a different pose, crafting a dreamlike sequence that left us all in awe.
In an audience mainly composed of local Ipoh residents, the lithe movements fusing with beats, resonated deeply. The power of Odissi was evident in the changing shades of colours, dreamlike sequences, and the seamless fusion of dance and storytelling.
Jaya Ram has brought the words of the ancient Valmiki (the original ancient Hindu text) to new audiences in full stunning display.
Jaya Ram 3.0 was a cultural celebration that showcased the transformative potential of Odissi. Supported by ArtsFas, an initiative of Yayasan Hasanah, the production embodied the celebration of 65 years of diplomatic relations between India and Malaysia.
The echoes of Jaya Ram’s enchanting tale will undoubtedly resonate long after the lights are dimmed, leaving the local community with memories of a night filled with magic and cultural heritage.
This spectacular cultural showcase would not have been possible without Mr. Kai Lek Tan & Mr. Yang and their teams at Tin Alley Team and Sin Yoon Loong . The people of Ipoh Thank You for your continuous effort and dedication to liven the city of Ipoh and make it cool again!!