By Jagmeeta Joy
The wafting aroma of incense, a small temple corner set on stage for Lord Jagannath, dancers in vibrant traditional costumes and an eager audience all set the mood for Simply Odissi 4.0 held on Saturday evening at The Parks Theatre in Angle Park.
Organised by the Temple of Fine Arts Adelaide (TFAA), a dance company led by Adelaide’s well-known dancer Vithya Karthigesu, Simply Odissi 4.0 was truly a celebration of the Indian classical artform, known for its grace and finesse.
The fourth edition of the popular cultural event saw dancers (students of TFAA) across age groups and gender perform in groups of three and more to choreography that was a blend of storytelling, abhinaya (expressions), classical postures and rhythmic movements.
The music was equally melodious and well-chosen to complement the group dances. Kudos to Ms Karthigesu for presenting a diverse mix of compositions – whether it was your first time seeing an Odissi dance performance or whether it was one of many, either way, it was a delightful audio-visual treat for the senses.
Helping the audience navigate through the classical event was the emcee for the evening, Mona Smith who gave brief yet informative introductions to each set of performances.
What also stood out was the dedication and precision of the dancers. Their expressions were emotive, and their coordination was flawless. Credit to their teacher, Ms Karthigesu, for maintaining the high standards of this classical Indian dance form overseas.
Gracing the occasion with their presence were the guests of honour, Dana Wortley MP (Member for Torrens) and Hon Russell Wortley MLC.
As she addressed the audience on the occasion, Ms Wortley highlighted the importance of dance in our lives. “We dance when we are sad, we dance when we are happy, we dance at weddings…dance is special,” said Ms Wortley who also remembered her time learning classical ballet.
Having seen Ms Karthigesu previously perform at the South Australian Parliament as part of a cultural function, Hon Russell Wortley applauded the dancer and admitted he was eager to see the evening’s performance. “Vithya’s performance was captivating and full of grace and finesse. It’s a lot of hard work as well,” said Mr Wortley.
Ms Karthigesu, who initiated TFAA in 2012, also reflected upon her journey this far. “Many here would not be aware that I worked as a lawyer for 15 years in Malaysia but I always yearned to dance,” reminisced Ms Karthigesu.
“I am grateful to my gurus for inspiring me to learn Odissi and Bharatnatyam. I never felt content with my life as a lawyer until I began to dance. It truly is my calling,” said Ms Karthigesu.
“I was fascinated with Odissi as it’s a beautiful and graceful dance. I am so happy to see my students perform today as I know this classical art form requires a lot of dedication, stamina and strength,” added Ms Karthigesu.
The final dance performance, ‘Lalita Lavanga’ was a testimony to that dedication and passion as it saw all of the students come together with their teacher and present a joyous celebration of spring season and a befitting ode to Lord Krishna. For the audience, it truly was an evening filled with grace, beauty, and tradition, one that left them with a profound appreciation for this dance form.