A Review: Kumbi Kathawa

The parameters of a good dance

Review of Kumbi Kathawa – performed by Chitrasena Kalayathanaya

I’ve always loved dancing. I’ve spent whole afternoons as a kid running around the garden in a leotard, hoping this exercise would magically turn me into a ballerina. I’ve grown up watching ballets both on stages around the world and on my parents’ beat up VCR. Dance movies from ‘The Dancing Princesses’ to ‘Dirty Dancing’ to ‘Step Up’ have kept me enthralled and not just a little green with envy.

Because, when you think about it, what’s not to love about dancing? The bodies are lithe and beautiful but muscles pulse and flex beneath smooth skin. The movements are so graceful but also so steady and strong. The expressions speak volumes but no words are uttered.

Admittedly I’m no expert when it comes to dance, least of all Kandyan dancing.  But I am a firm believer that one of the most important functions of any art is to provoke an immediate reaction. So I don’t need to analyse every step to figure out if it’s a good dance or not. My measures are a little different; a little more visceral. I know it’s a good dance when my own body twists discreetly in my seat, in an involuntary echo of what’s happening onstage. I know it’s a good dance when I am almost afraid to blink for fear of missing a single movement, a single loaded glance. I know it’s a good dance when I am too wrapped up in the action to even clap when the stage vanishes into inky darkness. (In fact, I was only shaken out of my reverie when I heard a little voice behind me indignantly say “Ammi mata mukuth penne ne” (Mum, I can’t see anything!). I had to laugh.) Continue reading A Review: Kumbi Kathawa

The Dancer

People rarely inspire me.

I know this seems a strange statement, especially coming from me, but in reality, it’s not all that surprising. I usually get inspired by the feelings people can evoke within me – the absolute clarity of a moment of love, the spiking anger of a fight, the kickstart of your libido when a lover enters the room, the dull throb of sadness when he leaves, acute empathy for someone in difficulty – these are the fruits on which my muse feeds endlessly.

I can count on my fingers the actual personalities that have inspired me. These jewels are so rare that when I come across them, I wish I could grab onto them and just absorb whatever it is about them that sweeps me off my feet. I realize that I am making it sound like falling in love – and in a way it is. Not in any sexual sense, but in terms of the romance of it all; that illogical logic: the knowledge that you are in the presence of someone who you know you were meant to meet, for whatever reason.

There doesn’t even have to be a reason, other than simply so that they could inspire you.

*** Continue reading The Dancer