Ramayana Reflection Series III

Posted on August 2, 2011 by


May 21, 2011 marked the Chhandam School of Kathak’s cornerstone school production – Ramayana.  The show featured over 350 students, live musicians from India, and appearances by the Chitresh Das Dance Company.  Students, parents, and participants took the time to share their experiences on the performance and being a part of the spectacular production.  Kathaka will be featuring these excerpts in a five part series.

Gauri Bhatnagar, Youth Company, Age  10

The Ramayana means a lot to me because it is part of my culture and because I think it is a symbol for India. To me, dancing in it helps me understand the story. I have performed in the Ramayana twice. The first time I didn’t know anything about the story. But as I kept dancing, I kept learning about the Ramayana. When I danced in it, I felt that I got more details about the story.

Here are three scenes in which I learned a lesson about each one. The three scenes are the Taraka scene, Ashram scene and Shravan scene.

In the Taraka scene Ram and Lakshman are very calm and Taraka was very angry, that is how they defeated Taraka. The lesson is don’t be angry, just be calm.

The Ashram scene is showing how Ram and Lakshman got trained to be so good at archery. The lesson is to be strong you must practice and to practice you have to have the right attitude.

In the Shravan scene it is showing how you should care about your parents. If I was the only child, I would care for my parents. I think the lesson is to care about your parents at all times.

In conclusion I hope Dadaji will finish the whole story of Ramayana. I would love to keep participating in the Ramayana. I wish the Ramayana would never end.

Leela Amladi, Youth Company, Age  14

The Making of the Tataka Scene: My Reflections

As the curtains parted, blood rushed to my head. I let out a curdling scream and charged down the aisle terrorizing the unsuspecting audience. A couple of children screamed and maybe even a grandma or two. I felt sly, ferocious, brave, and evil. I was bubbling over with rage at Ram and Lakshman who had dared to wage war against us. Playing the role of a demon in the Ramayana’s Tataka scene gave me an entirely new identity on stage. In the fighting scene during the final performance, I was ready to jump and tackle Lakshman for trying to fatally wound me with his “arrows”. It was exhilarating. I was so caught up in the moment that when I was killed at the end, I felt shamed that I had been defeated and killed. Or perhaps it was the sinking knowledge that my last scene in the Ramayana had just ended.

The first time I performed in the Ramayana, I was not a member of the Youth Company. I participated in the “Chands” group. At the end of that performance, Tataka came in shrieking, and scared us off stage. At that time, I thought of Tataka as an evil demon who loved frightening innocent forest-dwellers, for that was the only side of her I was exposed to. This year, I learned how Tataka was once a beautiful woman, cursed by Sage Agastya and turned into a terrible, flesh-eating demon or rakshasi. Tataka became a real, three-dimensional character, with feelings and emotions.

My second experience with the Ramayana was enlightening. This year I was able to learn much more about the characters, the choices they made, their fates, and the events that transpired. I was able to understand my character better. I saw myself as a gang member unwittingly caught in a web of violence and gore because of loyalties I owed to people who befriended me, gave me shelter, and a sense of belonging. If my fearless leader was in any way threatened then I was going to do everything I could to defend the honor of our tribe. Once on stage, although there was choreography to perform, we were mainly concerned with the ongoing action. Ram and Lakshman were relentlessly pounding us with arrows. My chief concern was to advance aggressively while dodging the arrows aimed at me. I felt great frustration: there were so many of us, and just two of them, yet they outranked us in skill, precision, and valor. This is how the scene transpired from my perspective.

I am now looking forward to the next Ramayana to learn deeply about some other character and view this epic from yet another perspective.