All creatures came alive with colour and vigour
Kumbi Kathawa presented by the students of the Chitrasena Kalayathanaya at the Bishop’s College Auditorium on September 7 to 9. Reviewed by Charmaine Vanderkoen Mendis.
Chitrasena triumphed again at the Bishop’s College Hall when his family and his pupils brought to the stage the ballet “Kumbi Kathawa” proving that his vision, his dedication, and his striving for perfection in the sphere of Dance lives on. My saying this is not to detract from Vajira’s own contribution for she herself carries the stamp of her Guru, Chitrasena.
A short, nevertheless aesthetically satisfying ballet, “Kumbi Kathawa” saw all the necessary elements of good theatre - competent, well trained cast, strong imaginative choreography, supportive lighting, well chosen music and brilliant costumes. These elements complemented each other to make a pleasing whole.
This story with a moral lesson, is based on a Russian children’s tale. It was conceived, choreographed and directed by Anjalika who has come into her own as a choreographer and director, following in the footsteps of her parents. The success of this production owes much to her meticulous attention to detail, something most dance productions overlook.
Mahesh, who joined the Kalayathanaya in 1996, was later given a scholarship in the “Preserve the Dance” programme. He has stayed on to become a real asset to the Company. Apart from his beautiful dancing, his talents are obviously multi- faceted. His skills range from set and costume design, to execution. Mahesh’s intricate costumes were brilliant and did much for the success of “Kumbi Kathawa”. Rarely have I seen such well designed and well devised costumes, which though seemingly cumbersome off stage were functional, expressive and allowed the dancer freedom of movement.
The younger dancers ranged from ages 8 to 16. The overall standard of dancing was high - but I particularly noted the main 'Kumbi’ family who seemed to really live their 'Kumbi’ lives. Their expressions and subtle body language were obviously their own input, to supplement the formal script. The butterflies and the lady bird beetles danced by the senior students were as good as expected, especially Thaji in the menacing lead role of the vicious mosquito.
Although the main focus of the event was Kumbi Kathawa, for me, the most meaningful presentation was Thaji’s rendition of “Rebirth”. Set to the music of Pradeep Rathnayake and choreographed by Heshma, it was an ethereal performance. While Heshma acknowledges the role of the music as her source of inspiration, I am convinced that the subtle variety of Thaji's movements and the control she is able to exercise over her body has also influenced Heshma’s choreography.
“Kumbi Kathawa” deserves international exposure. I have no doubt it will be instantly acclaimed anywhere in the world. It would be wonderful if only an international organization would see the value of funding an overseas tour of this production, perhaps to a children’s festival!