Capturing the moment
Sutra Gallery presents an odissi- inspired photography exhibition.
PHOTOGRAPHY exhibition Ganjam captures the story behind the dance lineage of odissi from the culturally rich district of Ganjam, South Odisha in India.
The exhibition is on now at Sutra Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.
Odissi is one of eight classical dance forms of India and originates from the state of Odisha, in eastern India. It is believed to be the oldest surviving Indian dance form.
Based on Sutra Foundation’s odissi production of the same name, the Ganjam photo exhibition immortalises some great moments of Sutra’s acclaimed production held at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur last September.
Two photographers – A. Prathap, 33, from India and S. Magendran, 28, from Malaysia – are exhibiting 25 photographs in their second joint- exhibition. In Ganjam, Magendran has 14 photos while Prathap contributes 11.
If you’re familiar with Sutra’s performances, you’ll also recall that Magendran and Prathap shot photos at the Sutra’s festival Joined In Dance in 2012.
Their first joint- show Joined In Dance was held in Sutra Gallery in 2013.
For this current exhibition, Prathap feels that the staging ( of Ganjam) was more complex as the choreography and stage design made full use of the multi- level stages at Istana Budaya.
“The performance was designed with a backdrop of projections, which added to the complex and multi- layered presentation. I had to decide on what to focus,” he says of the challenges in photographing dancers whose movements are deft and quick during stage performances.
Prathap has been photographing dancers and various dance or art forms in India since 2004. At the moment, he is a principal photographer with The Times Of India, Chennai, and has more than 10 years experience in photography.
Prathap likes to capture the raw emotions of dancers during performance and the form of the body – be it sharp or sinuous.
“Bharatanatyam is sharper and odissi is more sinuous. However, there is always the ‘ human’ element which gives it that emotional intensity.
“There is something fascinating about the intersection of aesthetics – of form and emotion, physicality and spirituality, which translate into visual poetry,” he explains.
As part of his work process, Prathap attended most of the rehearsals to understand the stages of choreography.
“I also love the hussle and bustle of backstage preparation, such as the dancers dressing up, putting their make- up and warming up. Such familiarity will help you to anticipate the dancer’s moves and position yourself to take the appropriate shots,” he says.
He also prefers to shoot in black and white and sepia tone.
“It is to bring a certain monumentality and austere quality to the image,” he explains. This gives it a stronger focus on design and content and leaves an impression of a ‘ classic’ encounter.”
Elsewhere, Magendran thinks that in dance photography, the photographer needs to understand the various art forms.
“In odissi, the mood is conveyed through abhinaya ( mood) which is expressed through the face and gestures of the dancers. A photographer has to be familiar with this through exposure at both rehearsals and the actual performance. We need to be able to anticipate the high point of this mood in order to capture the most intense moment. For a more sophisticated production, lighting is also important,” says Mahendran.
Magendran also loves to shoot in black and white.
“I find that these images are more expressive. Simultaneously, with the presence of shadows, the black and white images bring out the depth of the subject, making it look more like a 3D image,” he says.
Magendran also captured images of Sutra dancers during its performance at the Bayon Temple ( Angkor, Cambodia) and exhibited them at the Sublime Angkor exhibition at Sutra Gallery in 2013.
the Ganjam exhibition is on at Sutra Gallery at No. 12, Persiaran titiwangsa 3, Kuala Lumpur till March 31. Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm. Saturday, 10am to 12.30pm. It will later move to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall, where the second season of Ganjam - An Encore, the dance production, will be held at City Hall Auditorium from March 23– 27. More info: www.sutrafoundation.org.my.
1 Prathap’s Rama
Bhajana which shows the importance of anticipating the right moment in a dance movement.
with Sutra founder datuk ramli Ibrahim taking charge of the stage.
Springtime Play is all about the human element.
4 Magendran makes the epic moment count in his work