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