‘Sivakamiyin Sabatham’ a dance drama | Sunday Observer

‘Sivakamiyin Sabatham’ a dance drama

16 September, 2018

A story woven with political intrigue; romance and war; the love between a danseuse and a crown prince is to come on stage for the first time in Colombo on Saturday(September 30), evening at the Bishop’s College Auditorium. Sri Lanka Tamil Women’s Union (SLTWU) aptly commemorates the 70th anniversary of Kalalaya, the union’s school of dance and music with ‘Sivakamiyin Sabatham’ a dance drama by Kalki Krishnamurthi.

Set in 7th century South India, Sivakamiyin Sabatham depicts the love of the Pallava prince Narasimhavarman, crown prince of Kanchi and Sivakami, a danseuse and daughter of the court sculptor Aayanar and how their love evolves in the backdrop of the siege of Kanchi by the Chalukya king Pulikesi II.

About 40 artistes across the country would participate in Sivakamiyin Sabatham, said veteran dance instructor Nirmala John, choreographer of the dance drama. This would include male dancers from different parts of the country, students from the University of Visual and Performing Art and Nirmalanjali Academy of Dance. The reason to include male dancers is to bring authenticity and life to the drama, she commented. While there are a number of dance academies in Colombo, there is a dearth of male dancers explained John. The dance drama revolves around male characters with Sivakami the female character at the centre. “Though we could get females to depict male characters, there is a marked difference between a female dressed as a male, and a male dancer playing a male character,” she said.

Sivakamiyin Sabatham is a classical dance drama consisting of 10 acts. While there will be an introduction to the story in English, there will also be a 4 line English poetry explaining each act: The political intrigue and machinations of a monk who is also a spy serving the Chalukya king; his love for Sivakami’s dance; Sivakami’s abduction by the Chalukya king; and her ‘Sabantham’ or vow to avenge her humiliation on the streets of the city of Vatabi add colour to the drama and its emotional weave. “The audience can expect varied and colourful dance stances,” said John.

The dance drama is presented by SLTWU to raise funds to upgrade facilities at the Kalalaya School of Dance and Music, commented SLTWU President Nirmala Ragunathan at a media briefing held recently. Established in 1948, Kalalaya promotes Tamil culture, including dance and music.

The premises facilitate interested students with classes in vocals, instruments and Bharatha Natyam. Though in 1983 there had been a substantial drop in the number of students and they had to close down the institute for some time during the period of civil war in the country, after the end of the war in 2009 the number of students had continued to increase.

However, the facilities the school has are the same, that was built in 1954, when they moved to the premises down Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7, noted Selvi Sachithanandam, Principal of Kalalaya. The fundraiser will support to build additional space for classes and an administration facility. The school hopes to introduce Kathak and Karnatic dance and Keyboard playing in the near future.

SLTWU founded by Dr. Mary Rutnam in 1909 is one of the oldest women’s organizations in the country. It is currently engaged in empowering women and uplifting their livelihoods in the North and East.

For more information - Selvi Sachithanandam (0773 679656)