Tagore's 'Chitra' holds audiences spellbound in Trinidad and Tobago

Paras Ramoutar

Port of Spain, Dec 3 (IANS) Audiences in Trinidad and Tobago sat entranced watching 'Chitra', a rendition of Rabindranath Tagore's poem presented through the medium of Manipuri dance, staged in the Caribbean nation as part of celebrations of the Indian Nobel laureate's 150th birth anniversary.

Three performances of the dance drama, staged by an 11-member Manipuri Dance Group led by Priti Patel, were held -- at the Daaga Hall of the University of the West Indies on Nov 27; at Divali Nagar in Chaguanas on Nov 29; and the final one at NAPA on Nov 30.

'Chitra' continues to be one of Tagore's legendary works in the field of poetry, drama and Indology, and it was apt for the people of the country with over 44 percent population of ethnic Indian origin to view such a splendid portrayal of a great philosopher, thinker, humanitarian and historian.

Interspersed with religion, philosophy, literature, governance, sociology and creativity, 'Chitra' teaches all its patrons lessons in life and living. It also showcases India's rich history on several counts of human existence.

Indian High Commissioner Malay Mishra said that the genre of the Manipuri dance is how the princess of Manipur fell in love with Pandava hero Arjuna, but Priti reinterpreted its nuances and linked it with a thousand silent questions that still arise in the heart of every woman the world over.

Director and choreographer, Priti, in her full glory and devotion and dedication, not only excelled as a danseuse in this form of dance, especially in the Vaishnavite Ras Leela form of the Manipuri dance tradition, but through her rigorous training also, mastering the martial art Thang-Ta.

Priti demonstrated another of her unique dance form, 'Lai Haroba' which is a ritualistic form as well.

A major feature of her presentation was the Movement Therapy for children suffering from cerebral palsy.

She has developed this form where children with motor coordination disorder are taught movement therapy through the medium of Manipuri dance, and this intervention is highly commendable. It has two shoots --spiritual entertainment and medical support, and this montage could only be found in dances from India.

The show was sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Cultural Co-operation and the High Commission of India.

In recent times, the high commission has been exposing the great Indian cultural strengths and episodes reflecting on both the old and the new India to Trinidad and Tobago. They are all packed with wisdom, spirituality, knowledge and religious ways of the Indian subcontinent.

(Paras Ramoutar can be contacted at paras.r@ians.in)