Lord Ganesha – The Greatest Story Ever Told
Who: Devan Moonsamy and Tribanghi Dance Theatre
Where: Tesson Theatre at the Civic
When: Tonight and tomorrow at 8pm; Saturday at 5pm and 8pm; Sunday at12pm and 3pm
Talk about daring. Navigating traditions through intercultural exchange is tricky at the best of times. But this is something South Africans, especially choreographers the ilk of Jayespri Moopen, have gradually mastered.
For well over a decade this Benoni-based pioneer has been experimenting with African and Indian dance. In the dance drama Lord Ganesha, for the Moonsamy’s M&L Productions, the focus is
on classical Indian dance.
However, experimentation is still part of the equation. This time African dancers have to perform and interpret centuries-old forms from the south and west of India along with their Indian counterparts (who are also versed in African dance dynamics).
As a non-Hindu, by the end of this hour-long clumsily staged saga, I was not much wiser about this religion. As a follower of dance in all its forms, I was intrigued by the choreography, but barely convinced.
For one, narrator Devan Moonsamy’s Sage is too erratic. The script is too simplistic, the (non-credited) direction totally inept and the music badly edited.
At his first performance, Nhlanhla Zwane cut an impressive figure as Shiva but his balances were too shaky, the footwork not always clearly defined and the characterisation not sustained.
Highlighting this disparity (aggravated by nervousness) was Priya Naidoo’s Parvatie, beautifully executed with authority and all the required Abhinaya (expression). Seema Lala, heavily costumed as Lord Ganesha, managed to convey through gesture and footwork the grace and omnipotence of this deity, despite the awkward narrative.
Of the relative newcomers to Bharata Natyam, Tercia Laban
held her own with the rhythmic movement. Sibusiso Kubeka also showed a lot of promise.
I left the theatre thinking what a lot of potential this venture has. If the Shaolin Monks can bring their lives and beliefs to the stage, why not the Moonsamy family and Tribanghi?
The amateurism has to go.