2017 – Rebab
Dancing in Place – Rimbun Dahan 2017
Sat 18th & Sun 19th
Re-Creating Rebab on UMa Dancers (UM students) for Rimbun Dahan’s Dancing In Place 2017 (Sat18th & Sun19th March)
Performers: Rathimalar Govindarajoo partnered by Weijun Loh and in collaboration with the UMa dancers: Amyrul Said, Gwen Ng, Chiw Yi Yap, Jxn Juvenne and Karthini Chandran
Rebab – inspired by the ‘Main Putri’ and the ‘Makyong’.. The concept dwells around the word “Gerhana” as the churning of the ocean where immortality is obtained, and Gods dance where the Moon is eaten by the snake, and a dragon is split to two as Rahu and Kethu…
The creative process included structured improvisational tasks that formed their movements R & D in collaboration with the UMa dancers.
Music by Edwin Anand aka Coruz Hooks
Photos by Magen Subramanian @s_magendran
2016 – The Crowning Glory
Sutra Foundation’s The Crowning Glory, an exhibition by Sivarajah Natarajan, officiated by U-Wei at Sutra Gallery held on the 25th June (Sat) 8.30pm
Performance Installation by artistes of Sutra Dance Theatre Directed by Rathimalar Govindarajoo (partnered by Weijun Loh)
Installation Performance Music composed by Edwin Anand Ananthan aka Coruz Hooks
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6sCe-g56QU (By Sivarajah Natarajan)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTZtR681woA (Full dress rehearsal)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfDA-hZV3eU (By Lesly Leon Lee)
2016 – INTERACTIONS
A site-specific work created for Dancing In Place held on the 16th(Sat) & 17th (Sun) January 2016 at Rimbun Dahan.
The site-specific work brought together music and dance – A collaborative effort by Edwin Anand aka Coruz Hooks and myself.
- Edwin Anand
- Santhosh Logandran
- Deevesh Thiagarajah
- Selvendrrah Krishnan
- Tan Mei Mei
- Ogie Rozilah
- Hafzal Aziz
We went on BFM 89.9 to talk live about Dancing in Place — the joys, the challenges, the rain and mosquitoes — with Lee Chwi Lynn. The podcast is already online — check it out!
2015 – return
blessings blessings blessings blessings blessings blessings blessings
Blessings in this lifetime
Blessings for the knowledge of Your existence.
I thank you.
Million cycles of birth
Million cycles of death
Should i? Return?
a collaborative effort by
Sukania Venugopal, Rathimalar Govindarajoo, January Low and Edwin Anand
to give or send back in reciprocation
to give, take, or carry back; replace or restore
to repay or recompense, especially with something of equivalent value
2014 – SYNC
Piece title: SYNC (10-12 minutes)
Music by Addwind Coruz Hooks
Choreographed by Rathimalar Govindarajoo
Synopsis: Synchronicities are patterns that repeat in time. The word ‘synchronicity’ references the gears or wheels of time, though the actual concept of synchronicity cannot be scientifically proven. One can only record synchronicities as they occur and watch the patterns of behavior that create them. The concept of synchronicity is currently linked more to metaphysics, yet physics (quantum physics) and metaphysics are merging, thus showing their interconnection and how we manifest synchronicities in our lives.
2014 – rehab
Questions for both/either
1. Tell me about Rehab. What are the origins/inspirations of the piece? What can we expect to see?
January Low (JL): We were mainly inspired by a piece of meditative music that Rathi was listening to quite often at the time. When we met up for the first session we shared the first few words that came to mind when listening to the music and coincidentally every word started with the pre-fix ‘re’ and the word rehab popped up and we knew instantly that that would be the title of our piece.
2. What kind of choreographic influences can we see in Rehab? Any specific style/movement that you included?
Rathimalar Govindarajoo (RG): We knew that we wanted the work to be slow but strong and we made sure that the piece was strongly connected to the title. We spent a good amount of time discussing about what we wanted the work to be about. We were interested about parallel universes and how we saw ourselves in each other. We were also intrigued about the realization of discovering that there could be another self at this very moment and wondered what would happen when the two worlds met.
JL: We used a bit of release techniques in some of our phrases and there is quite a bit of floor work, as we wanted to keep the work grounded. The use of breath was crucial to form organic movements as the piece itself reflects the peace/calm/serene/therapy/internalisation that dance brings to us. We also focused on trying to bring out emotions from within and kept the movements minimalistic.
3. How did the decision for the both of you to collaborate come about? How has the experience been?
JL: I had just created a small rehearsal space in my basement and I was thinking of ways that I could use it and I immediately thought of Rathi. I asked her if she was interested in coming over and improvising and teaching me phrases of old contemporary works so that I could get my body back in shape and she asked me if I would be interested in dancing with her for Tari 14. I immediately said yes and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. The entire creative process has been wonderful, we started off in a pretty dark tunnel but we have managed to come out into the sunshine, better and stronger.
4. How does the collaborative process work? Do each of you have a specific aspect you take on, or do you both work on the piece as a whole together?
RG: We worked on the piece as a whole together. We spent a lot of time talking and discussing, which in itself contributed to the process and we collectively made decisions to create a certain movement or phrase playing to our capabilities.
JL: We came up with a rough skeleton of the piece but we kept our sessions very free and easy. Our rehearsal sessions revolved around the kids’ nap times and on days that they refused to nap our sessions were naturally cut short. But we never stressed about it and just kept things spontaneous and organic. We were very efficient with our time and kept rehearsals to twice a week. Our motto from the start was that we were going to enjoy the creative process and not to have any expectations.
5. How does your classical Indian dance background and your time with Sutra contribute to/influence this piece?
RG: Without neglecting the fact that Sutra does have a strong influence in our dance, Jan and I used this opportunity to look and search for our own voice, a signature that the audience could recognize and a style to call our own. We hope ‘rehab’ has that distinctive style that has evolved from our training.
6. Where do you see yourselves taking Rehab after this? Will it be staged as a full-length work?
JL: We don’t know yet but we have deliberately kept ‘rehab’ open-ended. We would love to develop it further but we’ll see what happens after it’s been premiered. Performing it is already a huge milestone for the both of us.
1. Rehab will mark a return of sorts for you to the dancing stage, yes? What does it feel like?
It feels all kinds of wonderful. It is very easy to get caught up with being a wife and mother because by the time everyone’s needs are met you are completely exhausted at the end of the day but I made it a point to have ‘me’ time. It also helps that I have a very supportive husband who understands how much dance means to me. This will be my first performance in Kuala Lumpur in 5 years. The time away from dance has helped me appreciate it a whole lot more.
2. How did you juggle the piece with being a wife and a mother to two young children?
I am ever so grateful that Rathi was willing to drive to my house for all the rehearsal sessions and there was no pressure to complete the piece in a significant amount of time. We agreed to have fun and enjoy the entire creative process, which I have, immensely.
3. Will we be seeing more of you on stage after this?
With God’s grace, I hope so. I am performing for the Borak Arts Series on the 23rd of November and I have been invited to perform at the International Odissi Festival in Bhubaneswar, Orissa next month.
1. The last few years have been a very busy time for you, filled with both performances and choreographing. In the midst of all this, what prompted you to begin Rehab?
Joseph Gonzales invited me to partake in the Young Malaysian Choreography Showcase and coincidentally Jan asked me to come over to dance together in her space. So I thought that it would be nice for a change to collaborate with Jan because the last time we danced together was in 2009 for Sutra’s Rasa Unmasked. Although we have never partnered on stage, I had always wondered if our energies could mix to create something interesting. Jan has a very calm and poised energy, whereas I have a very loud and dynamic energy. I thought maybe these opposite qualities could merge and was curious to see if we could connect despite being so completely different.
Moreover, I felt that it would be nice to have someone to dance with and direct me because Jan has very good composition skills.
2. What else are you currently working on? What will we be seeing you in next?
I am currently working with Sabera Shaik on a four month long Wayang Project titled ‘A Malaysian Story’ that will be staged at Auditorium Bandaraya from the 7th to the 11th of January 2015 . It has been tough juggling between rehearsals, but these few months has given me such invaluable experiences in physical theatre. It is a lot more different than creating a dance piece.
a collaborative effort between Rathimalar Govindarajoo & January Low
rebirth . renew . release . recover . rediscover .
Two dancers find themselves in seemingly similar positions only to find out that the way of release is to reflect, recover and rediscover.
13th November 2014
Young Malaysian Artists Showcase
Tari ’14 – 9th International Dance Festival
Black Box, ASWARA
MORE ON rehab:
2012 – Panjara
Choreographer: Rathimalar Govindarajoo
Dancers: Rathi, Divya Nair, Geethika, Tan Mei Mei, Talyssa, Sivagamavalli, Nalina Nair, Jyotsnaa.
Music Composer: Edwin Anand
Lighting & Set: Sivarajah Natarajan
Panjara examine myths—the archetypes of mythology and how their avatars perpetuate these in our contemporary psyches through various transfigurations.Panjara takes its cue from the present scenario, in which a majority of women are disenfranchised and suppressed. How far can women compromise what is due to their rights as human beings when they are denied the full range of their dynamism in this fast changing world?
During work in progress: thoughts, ideas and where it derived from…
This is my choreography here’s what I’m playing with: Found this on the web… and hoping to make some sense out of it — and figuring out how would one interpret this in a dance?
“Suffrage has not been a stepping stone to full equality for women. One problem was that once suffrage was achieved, the common ground among women fighting for it was lost…” (AMBIGA BERSIH vs LADY GAGA) Good or bad?
The box/cube represents : society, rules, culture – the suppression of women (especially Asian women)
Dance flow theme : TIMELINE – Evolution of women (20 minutes)
movement 1 – Traditional
movement 2 — Rebellious/ Change
movement 3 — Change / fight for freedom… equality
movement 4 – Strength/Weakness? FINALE End – Male domination? (a male musician will be constantly on stage moving from one lighting spot to the other – music is being composed by a local rising star, young artist Edwin Anand Ananthan – I am working closely with Edwin on the music. (We are trying to incorporate traditional and modern music. It is crucial to develop a local signature of Dance and Music for this project!)
Title: Panjara — in sanskrit means ‘cage’.
Synopsis: Throughout all these myths, Women are identified with both creation and protection. She is described in terms of fertility and reproduction; by creating mankind from her own epidermis, and subsequently sustaining them through Earth’s bounty, she is the First, and pre-emanate Mother – Mother’s for peace, Mother’s for nature! As the Female principal; the Goddess who is life-giving, life sustaining, and life-producing.
However, in the current world, are Asian women seen as sexual accessories to the world while suppressing their own existence? The women of the future are willing to hock their identities while toiling to build new lives but are they being begrudged the right to take simple pleasure in their own identities? Are women biologically inferior to men? Why do women accept their inferior position in society? Is it because it is part of their culture? Can these women succeed in the fight for liberation to shape and change the cultures to which they belong? Is it something in a culture that oppresses women?
“I will tell you why,” she said to him.”You are male and I am female.”You are of sky and I am of earth.”You are constant in your brightness, but I must change with the seasons.”You move constantly at the edge of heaven, while I must be fixed in one place…”Remember, as different as we are, you and I, we are of one spirit. As dissimilar as we are, you and I, we are of equal worth…Unlike each other as you and I are, there can be no harmony in the universe as long as there is no harmony between us.”
– (Zolbrod 1984: 275)*Zolbrod, Paul G, 1984. Dine bahane’. University of New Mexico Press.
Questions & answers:
Q 1 : When did you become aware that you are not just a dancer but also want to choreograph?
From a very young age, I observed Master Ramli and Guna, arrange and choreograph pieces for Sutra. Be it Indian Classical or Contemporary dance pieces, they created work that were beautiful for the audience to appreciate and become something so special for both the choreographer and the audience to take with them. It is a gift and a piece to the creator (the choreographer), is said to be their creation, their ‘baby’! It is a piece of their soul… It is true, to choreograph a piece, takes a lot of nurturing over time and as the journey proceeds, the ideas and the concept develops along, in order to get it stronger and clearer. That alone, is a huge challenge for me and I am very curious to know whether I am able to create my own ‘baby’. Metaphorically, I want to know how my ‘baby’ would look like. It is a search of individual strength, beauty and quality of movement. To look for an inspiration that leads to a path that is seems like an inner self discovery. They are as different as the people with whom I begin this journey. “A performance is a miracle”, master keeps reminding us. A performance that moves the audience and that remains in their thoughts on account of its uniqueness, is my aim. Choreography to me is a form of creativity, a form of yoga because it is to express the intangibles ideas that are running through my body. Anything that rises through creativity inspires me. My dream is to stage a performance by presenting an inspiration, a collaboration of amalgamated music and lights, that to me is very orgasmic! Words cannot express my joy of being part of a team creating this with my direction.
Q 2 : How do you think dance empower women ?
Dance to me represents what it means to be liberated, confident, and in good health; all of these are important for the women to have, to liberate of a feminine power. Dance was known for its rituals – as I am a season performer from a very young age dancing before the gods in temple rituals, it is an important element and it brings a sense of a spiritual offering of the self or “melepaskan angin…” (to decompress) as it is described in ancient Malay traditions. Dance was originally seen as an ideal medium for the expression in healing and restoring the body, the heart, the spirit, the communities and the nature. If a woman shuts down emotionally, dance allows that to come out. What is more empowering than inner peace and liberation?!
Q 3 : How do the Arts, specifically Dance, different to Sports, help in nation building?
The Arts provides the opportunities to help build a nation by developing communities and restoring oneness. The Arts bridges across cultures and ethnics, bringing together cross cultural dialogue, understanding, unity, tolerance and peaceful-coexistence. Sports is competitive, as one team competes against another, to be better than the other. It is a competition, whereas the arts unites, it is about appreciation and sharing. Although, both Sports and Arts cannot reverse poverty or prevent crime, solve unemployment, stop corruption and uplift human rights. It is a type of medium to voice our opinions and create awareness. If we are to build a better future for all, we must not be afraid to engage in some very difficult self-reflection and evaluation. However, personally I believe Sports and the Arts can both merge to create that balance. They say ‘Dance is “not a sport” but rather just a form of Art’… but some athletes are being sent to ballet classes, to dance all kinds, whether it be modern, jazz, ballet, hip-hop and even pole dancing. All of them take an extreme amount of control and strength, and athletes have begun to recognize these benefits. Although dancers train equally hard and as long as professional athletes but the football players and other professional athletes that get paid in millions, many professional dancers do not receive even close to a fraction of that amount of money. There are some countries, where dance is treated as a form of art and a sport. Dance can be interpreted as a sport or an art depending on the cultural make-up of each country, for example, India. It just so happens that here, dance is widely known as an art rather than a sport. Yet this does not mean dancers are not athletes.
Q 4 : How has your experience been working with Sutra dancers in Panjara.
These dancers are like my sisters. We have grown dancing together for years, and they are my closest friends. However, creating Panjara with them was incredibly challenging. Many would think it would have been easier, but it was not. I know these dancers so well that I challenged myself to push them to their extremes and make them dance outside of their comfort zones. To break open their inhibitions and to dance in ways they have never before. It was both a challenge for them and myself. Moreover, we all have a similar dance background in dance training, so it was a collective effort we have all put together as a team to create something ‘new’ for Panjara. As a choreographer and dancer, it is a priceless experience for one to explore choreography on other dancers because it is also an observation of oneself in others.
2009 – Quintessence A Sight Specific Work
Which means the perfect embodiment of heavenly beings, also known as- the fifth element after Earth, Wind, Water and Fire.
Dancing In Place : Cross-Pollination in Rimbun Dahan on the 7th & 8th August 2010.
2009 – Audacity
We started off at 8.30pm, with at an audience of a hundred SANGGAR participants from all over Malaysia. (including Sutra dancers too).
Suhaili & I performed the 20min piece for the very first time on a proper stage and lighting (by Ah Heng). Later, Joseph invited us to a Q&A session which lasted for an hour and a half! However, it was incredibly refreshing for me to actually share my experiences striving as a dancer & my dance journey from Malaysia to the UK with the audience. It was interesting to know how the they responded to the piece. There were so many questions and many positive comments… I am happy that it was all very supportive & encouraging. It is wonderful to have been blessed with this opportunity to work with Bilqis in her production and to dance with beautiful Suhaili. It has all worked out better than I expected! I am definitely grateful for all the goodness that’s being blessed upon me!
Synopsis of ‘Rebel Without A Cause?’
When monotonous routines of an existing condition keeps repeating itself, one becomes weary of its unvarying repetitive pattern and breaks away from the discipline, that evolves into something originally new and radically complex. However, in any case, there is no escape in the confined denomination…
Experimental Lighting Project by Michelle Chang
Music by Mukul – originally made for a work by Russell Maliphant called Choice, performed in London, UK.
Dancers: Suhaili Ahmad Kamil & Rathimalar Govindarajoo
Choreographer: Rathimalar Govindarajoo
A Balletbase Producion by Bilqis Hijjas
A Balletbase Production under Bilqis Hijjas.
Rathi’s first attempt in choreography succeeded as Star Struck for Sutra dancers in 2006, to cross borders by incorporating the kinetic energy of Bharatanatyam and martial arts, while informed by contemporary twists and sensibilities.