“Krishna, Love Re-invented” Where Dance Crosses all Barriers of Race, Religion and Geography



HOUSTON: After Sangamam, Dashavatar, Go to your room, Mother, Bollywood Blast, and The Life of Gautama Buddha Samskriti brings to Houston an unusual production from Malaysia – Krishna, Love Re-invented – by Ramli Ibrahim and the Sutra Dance Theatre. This presentation is a perfect example of ‘dance without borders’, where art transcends religion and dance becomes the language of the soul rather than the body.

Ramli Ibrahim is an international icon in the field of Odissi today, but his path was not so smooth in the beginning. A trained Ballet, Jazz and Modern Dance exponent who had performed professionally with the Sydney Ballet, Ramli fell in love with the symmetry and beauty of Indian classical dance, travelled to India, studied first Bharatanatyam and then Odissi, and soon became an expert at these dance forms too. Back in Malaysia he met with opposition because of his pursuit of “Hindu” dancing, but with unwavering dedication he continued his training, and upon his return, established his dance company, Sutra Dance Theatre in 1983, to promote the cultural diversity and vibrancy of Malaysian dance to national and international audiences. His message to his detractors was clear – that the timeless stories of Indian mythology, as told through India’s ancient classical dance forms, are the highest form of art, and therefore meant to be shared and enjoyed by the world. This broad-minded and visionary Muslim choreographer has Hindu, Christian and Buddhist dancers in his ensemble, and they are Malay, Chinese and Indian. At a time when the world is being torn apart by religious strife, Ramli has proved that art can bring people together. Ramli Ibrahim exemplifies the perfect artist – one who pursues art for art’s sake, and is fearless and relentless in his pursuit of it. Ramli and his Sutra Dance Theatre have transcended all barriers of religion, geography and language.

Kabir sang the praises of Ram, Ramli (indeed his name has ‘Ram’ in it) sings a paean to the Pastoral God Krishna in his Krishna, Love Re-Invented, which embodies the human spirit that has always celebrated love in its many forms. In Hinduism, Bhakti or devotion remains a central tenet of its teachings. Hindu saints and poets have explored love’s profound effects on the soul through the stories of the gods. The Krishna-Gopis idyll has become the all time symbol of romantic love at its sublimated best. The moods, feelings and emotions of this love affair, an embodiment of Rasa (highest emotional state) become a sublime allegory expressing and affirming the highest love the individual soul has for God, in this case, Krishna. Love is able to transcend man-made restrictive morality and finds itself ‘re-conceived’ and ‘re-invented’ to accommodate our real, imagined and fantasized desires with complete abandon.

As Sutra’s Artistic Director, Ramli has choreographed stunning works and nurtured some of the brightest dance talents from Malaysia. Ramli has been instrumental in transforming the dance scenario in Malaysia by boldly charting new paths and has gained fame for single-handedly establishing Odissi as a widely appreciated dance form in Malaysia. He is acknowledged as a ‘Living Heritage’ by the Government of Malaysia and is the recipient of the highest and most prestigious title of Datuk from the Prime Minister of Malaysia. He is presently Chairman of Sutra Foundation. Ramli Ibrahim besides an acknowledged dancer in Bharatanatyam and Odissi in India itself, Ramli was formerly with the Sydney Dance Company and plays important role in the interface of Asian & Western dance in redefining modernity from an Asian perspective.

Samskriti is very proud and happy to present artist extraordinaire Ramli Ibrahim and his Sutra Dance Theatre in their first major performance in Houston. Krishna, Love Re-invented will be presented at the Cullen Theater, Wortham Center (in the Downtown Theater District) at 5 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2014. Tickets are available at  www.explorehouston.org/ticketing,  www.sulekha.com and 832 275 9658.

This program is funded in part by grants from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, and generous donations from Schlumberger and Hindus of Greater Houston. Samskriti is very grateful to the Classical Arts Society of Houston, Asia Society Texas Center, Dance Source Houston, and Kalaangan School of Odissi Dance for their unstinted support for this event.

INVENTED” – where dance crosses all barriers of race, religion and geography