Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Apsaras Arts Roundup

Singapore’s initial lockdown restriction was revised with relaxed restrictions to “Phase 2” from 19 June 2020 as the arts community prepares to reopen studios for regular dance classes from early July.  Apsaras Arts surges ahead with continued digital conversations with interesting speakers. 

This past week, two digital events were held; ‘Spotlight Series’ part five, featuring outgoing India High Commissioner to Singapore, Jawed Ashraf. During this tenure, he created many important initiatives that strengthened India-Singapore relations including the inauguration of a memorial of Mahatma Gandhi at Clifford Pier in 2017 (now the Fullerton Bay Hotel), marking the occasion of the immersion of his ashes here in Singapore back in 1948. All these events were marked with rich cultural content showcasing the vast and rich heritage of India. Many of these performances featuring classical dance, instruments and yoga practitioners of Singapore were curated and coordinated by Aravinth Kumarasamy of Apsaras Arts as well.

In this Spotlight session, H.E Javed spoke on “Transcending Boundaries – The Power of India’s Cultural Heritage.” Speaking off the cuff from the High Commission of India, on 21 June, which was coincidentally international day of Yoga, he spoke with eloquence and depth on the enduring power and potential of the centuries long transcending of Indic traditions and culture through language, ideology, customs and traditions to the rest of Asia and in particular, the specific influences to South East Asia, including Singapore. The many communities he managed to engage, the religious activities he participated in, all had cultural elements embedded and he feels that Indian culture and heritage can continue to build dialogue and bridges for long-lasting friendship and camaraderie between India and Singapore. This session was attended by over 80 participants including those from Europe, especially French-Indian arts organisers who are anticipating his impending arrival and are looking forward to support from the Government of India for Indian cultural exchange in France. It was a pleasure hearing his views, many of our students and participants were encouraged to hear his positive words, especially during this difficult global pandemic. 

This was followed by a new series by Apsara Arts called ‘Heart 2 Arts – Conversations with Darshana Series Artistes’ on 26 June 2020.  Moderated by Mohanapriyan Thavarajah, this series featured conversations with Singapore-based dancers who have been featured in Apsaras Arts Darshana Series. This series began in 2018 and recreates an intimate setting of thematic solo and duet performances by locally based professional dancers.  The first session opened with Kathak dancer, Shivangi Dake Robert who had presented her show, Nupur Lahiri back in late 2019. In this session, Mohanapriyan explored the voice of the dancer through the selected pieces and themes and creates a conversation around how they created their show, the inspiration for their showcased pieces (he shows snippets from the show as part of the flow of discussion) and also how their past training impacts their performance style and what it takes to bring out elements in a piece. In this discussion, Shivangi shared how she used sequential lighting to showcase four unique characters within a storyline and explained how contemporary techniques like this help create more relevant performances. This session is available on Facebook Live at this link: for viewing. 

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