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Thakitta Thai! Thai!  |  Launched on 4 December 2020  |  KattiBoo Day  |  Nursery Rhyme  |  All Ages

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Authored by Abhi Krish  |  Dance by Apsaras Arts (Balabharatham)  |  Art for Rhyme Sheet by Nirzara Verulkar  |  Edited by Thaxsha Mark

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Demo & Choreography: Teacher Chitra Pubalan
Balabharatham Dancers: Pragya Muralidharan, Deeksha Amrita Nayar, Snigdha Tripathy, Anisha Kishan, Akshainie Raman, Megha Kurapati, Anushree Nachammai

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மரத்தில் தாவும் யானை. பாம்பு போல் ஊர்ந்து செல்லும் வாத்து. இந்த விலங்குகளைப் போல் நாமும் ஆடி விளையாடுவோமா? அதை நடனம் மூலம் சொல்லித்தருகின்றனர் அப்சரஸ் கலைக்குழுவினர்.

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Have you ever seen a tree-swinging elephant? How about a slithering duck? Apsaras Arts’ Balabharatham dancers are going to show you how to dance as one animal mimics another!

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[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_empty_space height=”50px”][vc_single_image image=”22843″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” qode_css_animation=”” link=””][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” type=”full_width” text_align=”left” video=”” css_animation=””][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”50px”][vc_column_text]We speak with Apsaras Arts to learn more about their art and initiatives. Read on![/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][vc_column_text]How has Apsaras Arts been promoting Tamil through your programming?

Apsaras Arts is known for its iconic dance productions and as a dance company its core repertiore of productions are based on thematic concepts are inspired on varied topics. Over the years the company has created dance productions based on Tamil epics such as “Kannagi” (Silapathigaram), “Aarpadai” (Kanthapuranam) and “Sivagami” (Sivagamien Sabatham) to name a few. In the recent years, the company has ventured into producing based on South East Asian themes such as “Angkor – An Untold Story” (inspired on the temple Angkor Wat of Cambodia), “Anjasa – Unravel the wonders of Buddhist Monuments of Asia” (inspired on the Buddhist monuments of South East Asia), and “Nirmanika” (a theme inspired on the beauty of architecture) to name a few. All these productions have Tamil lyrics for which the dance has been choreographed. These Tamil lyrics have been commissioned to be penned to suit these varied theme. As such, Apsaras Arts has always given priority to have its works based on Tamil poetry and epics. Our two latest works – “Anjaneyam – Hanuman’s Ramayana (a collaborative work based on Bharatanatyam and Javanese dance) is composed of selected verses from the Kamba Ramayanam, and “Paramapadam – Life’s game of Snakes and Ladders” (based on the Tamil traditional board game) has commissioned lyrics penned in Tamil.



How have you found Tamil audienceship through the years?

Apsaras Arts has an international following which includes Tamil audiences based in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia and UK. The company has built a good following with these Tamil audiences who appreciate the Tamil lyrics and concepts based on Tamil epics that we present. In the recent years, Apsaras Arts has collaborated with NLB in Singapore to present talks and presentations prior to the premier of its productions to engage the audiences on its new works. During the premier of our work “Anjaneyam – Hanuman’s Ramayana”, we conducted several sessions on Kamba Ramayanam inviting Tamil poets and scholars to speak to audiences of different ages including Singapore secondary schools students. As such, we take a lot of effort to engage Tamil audiences in Singapore and during our overseas tours.



What are some challenges in engaging Tamil audiences?

The challenges we face are to be able to reach to Tamil audiences who may be new to appreciate Indian classical dance in Singapore. Our partnership with Esplanade Theatres on the Bay over the past 15 years has enabled the company to build a regular following of Dance audiences who are from diverse demographics and race. In order for us to reach out to Tamil audiences, we work with organisations such as NLB, Umar Pulavar Tamil Centre etc. The company has produced specific Tamil works which have been presented as Singapore Poetry Festivals in the recent years, and these works directly reach out to Tamil audiences.


Another challenge in Singapore is the lack of programming of classical dance in the Mediacorp Tamil Channel – Vasantham for the past 20+ years.  Not being able to present our Tamil based works in our own national TV deprives us to reach out to all Tamil speaking Singaporeans.



What are the differences in engaging adults verses child audiences?

There are many differences in engaging child and adult audiences. The company has created several works based on Tamil poetry which reach out to Kindergarten and Lower Primary schools students. These are very popular in our NAC-MOE promoted AEP programming which we regularly present to Singapore schools.



How can the classical arts help promote interest in language and mother tongue for children?

Dance is known as visual poetry and has the power to communicate to audiences its core message. We have used this medium as a tool to make Tamil epics and poetry to be appreciated with ease. For example, our recent work “Anjaneyam – Hanuman’s Ramayana” enabled us to bring beautiful 12th century Tamil work of Kambar’s Ramanyana to audiences to appreciate the beauty of this epic Tamil work.



What is your most favourite Tamil work to date? (Yours or anyone else’s)

One of my favourite works of our Apsaras Arts is “Kannagi” which our founder Mrs Neila Sathyalingam produced in the early 90’s. I had an amazing experience working with Tamil scholars in India to study the Silapathikaram to create this dance productions assisting Neila Mami. We created this work as a Tamil Dance-Opera, where the characters danced, sang in their own voices and delivered lines form the epic. Singapore Tamil audiences still fondly speak of this work by Apsaras Arts.


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