Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Saturday, Nov 11, 2006
Google



Metro Plus Tiruchirapalli
Published on Saturdays

Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Metro Plus | Open Page | Education Plus | Book Review | Business | SciTech | Friday Review | Young World | Property Plus | Quest | Folio |

Metro Plus    Bangalore    Chennai    Coimbatore    Delhi    Hyderabad    Kochi    Madurai    Mangalore    Puducherry    Tiruchirapalli    Thiruvananthapuram    Vijayawada    Visakhapatnam   

Printer Friendly Page Send this Article to a Friend

Striving hard to revive and refine ethnic dance form

A Sri Lankan professor has brought his country's folk art, Koothu, to the fore in a refined form

PHOTO: S. JAMES

COMMITTED Exemplary knowledge of theatre and dance

"Thaam thitha ... Thalaangu thakajam...," the swirling rhythmic movements remind you of some classical performance, until you meet this 63-year-old Sri Lankan professor of theatre arts in action. What he is unfolding is "Koothu", a Sri Lankan folk art. S. Maunaguru, Professor and Head, Department of Fine Arts, Eastern University, Sri Lanka, who was recently in city, however, objects to branding Koothu as a folk art. His contention: "Folk art is generally classified as simple form of dance or music without any rigid rules giving free space for the performer to exploit. Whereas, any refined form with complex strictures (music or dance) can only be called classical. Koothu perfectly fits into the latter genre."

Degenerated form

"Koothu is a degenerated form of classical dance with 48 types of `adavugal' (movements) in `vadamodi' and 80 different form of `adaivugal' in `thenmodi'. Koothu has all the classical riches. Moreover, it is our ethnic dance form and the cultural identity of Eelam Tamils," he points out. An expert in traditional as well as modern theatre, Dr. Maunaguru has done extensive research on Koothu and has, in fact, refined this art form in a turbulent Sri Lanka. His eyes light up when he speaks about the `identity'. The will to create a cultural identity for the conflict-torn Tamils in Northern and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka comes out transparent in this expert on theatre whose knowledge ranges from `Yakshaganam' of Karanataka and Kathakali of Kerala to `Therukoothu' and Bharatanatyam of Tamil Nadu. Dr.Maunaguru's passion for Koothu is deep rooted.

As a school student he got interested in drama and learnt the techniques of Koothu and performed on stage. "During one such performance I met Professor Vidhyanandan, who was overwhelmed by my stage exploits and groomed my professional career," he says humbly. Along with Prof. Vidhyanandan and his team, which included K. Sivathamby and K. Kailasapathy, Dr. Maunaguru tried to revive the ethnic dance form of Sri Lankan Tamils. During that period, a Sinhala theatre expert Sharathchandra tried to trace the history of Sinhala theatre and he came out with `Sinhala Thesiya Nadaga Marabugal' (Sinhala Theatre traditions). "Most parts of this book contained basic elements of Koothu, which ignited a spark in us to make a similar attempt and revive Koothu," he recalls. Initial attempt was to refine the art form and take it on to stage. The job of scripting a play, `Ravanesan', was entrusted to Dr. Maunaguru, who not only had to present King Ravana as a tragic hero but also play the lead role. The play was staged at Peradeniya University in Kandy, considered to be one of the biggest in South Asia. The play had all traditional elements of Koothu but with the refinement in movements and music. It was well received by the public. With Koothu getting registered in public memory, he thinks it can be an effective medium to bring forth important social messages. This propelled him to take up social issues like oppression of women. His `Sakthi Pirakkuthu' is still considered to be the first feminist play in Sri Lanka. Dr.Maunaguru is also instrumental in forming `Inniya Ani', a Tamil band with traditional instruments such as `parai', `udukkai' and `mathalam'. " Now, the band of 35 students leads the Eastern University convocation function," he beams with pride. Dr.Maunaguru is also very much involved in Children's theatre, ample evidence of which can be found in his collection `Thappi vandha thaadi aadu'.

T. SARAVANAN

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail



Metro Plus    Bangalore    Chennai    Coimbatore    Delhi    Hyderabad    Kochi    Madurai    Mangalore    Puducherry    Tiruchirapalli    Thiruvananthapuram    Vijayawada    Visakhapatnam   

Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Metro Plus | Open Page | Education Plus | Book Review | Business | SciTech | Friday Review | Young World | Property Plus | Quest | Folio |


The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | Sportstar | Frontline | Publications | eBooks | Images | Home |

Comments to : thehindu@vsnl.com   Copyright 2006, The Hindu
Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu