‘Karna’ weaves tragic spell at summer ballet fest

Posted by on May 8th, 2010 and filed under Art/Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) ‘Sutaputra Karna’, the epitome of chivalry and sacrifice in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, struck an emotional chord with audiences here in an opera ballet in the Mayurbhanj Chhau tradition, portraying him as a tragic figure and a king without a throne.

‘Karna, as etched by Vyasa, is emblematic of one of the most profound studies between man and his destiny, nature and nurture, and the deemed and the redeemed,’ said Shobha Deepak Singh, director of the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and the creator of the ballet.

‘Karna’ was staged at a packed Kamani Auditorium Friday night and it opened the annual three-day ballet Summer Ballet Festival 2010 of the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra.

‘Destiny has been unkind to this hero. But Karna won in the battle of values…The ballet is an attempt to place all those who have suffered Karna’s tribulations in their rightful places in the society,’ Singh said.

The ballet, which lasted more than an hour, opened with the souring of ties between the Kauravas and Pandavas and Karna’s position in court. He loses out to Arjuna in winning Draupadi’s hand and aligns with Duryodhana.

He is witness to the makings of Kurukshetra – while living his personal pain. He breaks down when Kunti reveals the secret of his birth – that she bore him as an unwed mother.

He remains a king without a throne – fighting his own blood – and dies in an act of supreme sacrifice to ensure his blood brother Arjun’s victory.

In the ballet, the dancers are all male barring those playing Draupadi and Kunti. The one portraying Karna fills his part with the earthy energy and vigorous movement of the Mayurbhanj Chhau that is performed without masks as opposed to the masked version of the art form practised in Seraikella in Jharkhand.

The young Karna comes across as a tragic figure – stoic and helpless in death that is orchestrated by the divine magic of Lord Krishna.

Karna was first staged by the Kendra 26 years ago in 1984.

‘I wanted to choreograph Karna as a opera ballet since I read his story several years ago. I felt that Karna and Krishna were two sides of the same coin. One was endowed with divine powers and the other gave away everything, including his ‘surya’ shield that could have made him the winner of the ‘Mahabharata’, spurred by his generous heart,’ Singh told IANS.

‘I have handpicked the dialogues so they reflect nature versus nurture and the deemed vs redeemed. I was inspired by a book on Karna by Shivaji Savant, ‘Mrityunjoy’, that I read as a child,’ she said.

Singh feels that ‘Karna, the son of a charioteer, was one of the most inspiring characters in history’.

‘Draupadi finds him the most handsome among the brothers, but turns him down at the ‘swayamvar’ because he is a ‘sutaputra’ belonging to a lower caste. When she is debased in the Kaurava court after the dice-play, she is unable to appeal to Karna for help. But the gentle child of the sun comes to her on his own and drapes his shoulder cloth around her to restore her modesty,’ Singh said.

The festival features a bouquet of period opera ballets – ‘Meera’, ‘Abhimanyu’ and ‘Parikarama’ – over three days.

The ballet ‘Meera’, to be staged Saturday and Sunday, will be a comment on women seeking their own space through music and dance.

‘I have created two Meeras – one the married body and the other the pining and singing soul. There is a Meera in every contemporary woman because all of us have pined for a lost love at some point of time in our lives,’ Singh said.

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