From Berlin with love - direct link
Germany-based Bharatnatyam duo of Shebana Devi Mangold and Johanna Devi shares the passion for Indian dance and more
Tribune photos: Pradeep Tewari S. D. Sharma
"I enjoy the double delight of modern western ballets and music and the profundity of Indian classical dances," says Johanna Devi, the other Bhartnatyam danseuse from Berlin. Like Shebana, she, too, fell in love with Indian dance at the age of six, after her parents were completely enamoured by Bharatnatyam during their visit to South India, and she, with a view to cherish their desire, decided to make it her calling. She learnt the rudiments of Bhartanayam from Aprajita Koch at Munich, and later under guru Savitri J. Rao at Kalakshetra in India, the USA and Canada and performed her ‘aranegtram" at Berlin in 2006 under Rajyashree Ramesh. Besides, Johanna completed her modern dance training and learnt classical western music (piano).
Like Shebana, she too has over 200 performances of Bhartnatyam at top venues to her credit, out of which two were in India during the Second International Dance Festival-2011.
"My next production titled "Santosham" will be my tribute to the magnificence of Indian classical dance, the complete musical art with poetry, music and drama," says Johanna.
But both the accomplished danseuses observe that their dancing prowess and excellence in the art can best be judged by the Indian audience and performing in India for them is like participation in the Olympics.
On the language problem, as also the dance compositions mostly weaved around the mythological themes, the dancers find no problem in singing fluent sargams or pedant despite Johanna knowing five words, including ‘dil’ in Hindi and Shebana knowing a bit of Tamil.
"The music and rhythm has an universal language and our gurus explain the lyrical intent of the poetry, which we portray through dance mudras and we can easily relate to their significance," say the maestros. "Indian music is sublime in nature and emotions lie at the heart of every classical bandish in Braj Bhasha, which exude spirituality, moral virtues and divine love, all uplifting the mind and soul to ecstatic levels.
The suffix ‘Devi’, added to our original names by our revered gurus, is indeed a blessing for us, which we will cherish always," say the Berlin-based dancers.
After we performed 'Bernarda Albas Haus' by Lorca at the 2nd International Theater Festival in Erbil, Iraq in September 2012, we were invited to present the piece again in Dohuk, Baghdad and Suleymaniah by the end of April/beginning of May 2013.
Unfortunately the original cast wasn't available. Only JDDC member Carmen Romero was able to join the tour and so we had an intense rehearsal period before we started out trip to Dohuk via Istanbul and Diyarbakir on April 22nd 2013.
We performed in Dohuk, Baghgdad and Suleymaniah. Audience and Press received our production really well and we were lucky to win the price for best production/best staging at the 17th International Theater Festival in Baghdad.
The local representatives of ARD TV-Station (a German Television Company) followed us around a bit and we were briefly mentioned during the daily news called 'Tagesschau' on May 3rd at 5PM.
It was a very special and intense experience for all of us to be able to perform in Baghdad at Muntada (in a 100 year old house near the river Tigris) and at the National Theater with about 1000 seats. We are grateful for the cultural exchange, the adventure and the opportunity to have met an audience that was so appreciative of our work and to be received by people, who really made us feel at home by showing us extraordinary hospitality.
i would like to thank the team: Corinna Mühle, Sharon Isabelle Rupa, Carmen Romero, Javeh Asefdjah, Sara Löffler, Miako Klein and Nora Krahl as well as the director Ihsan Othmann for their patience, humor and dedication.
We are now back to the rehearsal studio, continuing training, teaching workshops and preparing for upcoming shows.
JDDC had a very good Premier of 'La Casa de Bernarda Alba' at the 2nd Hawler International Theater Festival, Erbil Iraq on September 18th 2012. We were happy to have an appreciative audience and good media coverage.
I am especially happy to have met other festival participants like Sheema Kermani from Karachi, Pakistan and Jessica Kahawa from Kampala, Uganda.
we also enjoyed teaching at JDDC workshop to a Kurdish Folk Dance group.
'Bernarda Albas Haus' by Lorca. director: Ihsan Othmann, choreography: Johanna Devi, artists: Bana Aranda (Bernarda), Carmen Romero (Angustias) Eva Isolde Balzer (Martirio), Sarai Samarasa (Adela), Annekatrin Trautmann (La Poncia); music: Teodora Stepancic (harmonium, melodica, percussion, vocals), Tammy Ingram (guitar, vocals)
Finally we are going to start the rehearsals for La Casa de Bernarda Alba on Monday August 13th in Berlin. Four of the JDDC company members are part of the cast and are going to travel with three more artists to Erbil/Iraq for the 2nd international Theatre Festival held from September 18th till September 24th 2012. We are all looking forward to the production, the festival, as well as to the cultural exchange with local artists. We'll keep you posted on the developments of the piece and possible further shows!
Thanks to my friend Praveen D. Rao i met Mayuri and Madhuri from Nritarutya Company, Nirupama Rajendra, Maya Rao from the Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography and many more talented people. I was also lucky to briefly meet up with Attakkalari director Jayachandran Palazhy and several local contemporary dancers as well as with my friend and incredible mrindangam player Manjunath.
I had a wonderful time in Bangalore and will surely be back one day.
photo: with Madhuri Upadhya
it's time to leave for Bangalore. Visiting Tiruvannamalai and the orphanage was very nice and i hope to be back soon...
JDDC is creating profound and innovative dance productions for the international stage, merging contemporary dance and classical Indian dance.