By Mudassir Raja
The 50th birthday of the ambassador’s wife turns into a cultural
show bringing East and West together.
The real international side of Doha was truly witnessed at the residence of Dr Bart De Groof, Ambassador of Belgium, where the culture of the east and west came together recently on the 50th birthday of Shemain Thakur, wife of the ambassador.
Two prominent Odissi dancers performed at the event and mesmerised the audience with a display of rich Indian traditions, culture, music and colours. Odissi, also known as Orissi, is one of the eight pre-eminent classical dance forms of India.
Ramli Ibrahim and his student Geethika Sree, adept Odissi dancers, were on their way to Paris for a cultural performance when they enthralled the audience with swift yet calm and contained body movements, expressions, impressive gestures and sign languages here in Doha. The event was attended by noted Qatari personalities and diplomats including the ambassadors of Germany, Spain, Hungary, Japan, India, Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands and Malaysia.
Sanah, daughter of the ambassador, also performed at the occasion. She took over the centre stage with classical Indian Kathak dance. Sanah employed rhythmic foot patterns and characterisation for the performance that drew accolades from the audience.
The event was concluded with a delightful dinner.
Talking to Community, Ramli said, “I have specialised in two forms of Indian dance styles, Odissi and Bharatanatyam. However, I have been concentrating more on Odissi for the previous 15 years. I run an academy in Malaysia. At the academy, we concentrate more on performing arts. There are lots of Indians in Malaysia, so I promote classical Indian dances there. I also promote modern dances, modern from the point of view of Asia. We discuss a lot of contemporary ideas within the traditional boundaries. I am on my way to France where I will perform Odissi dance. And post that, I’ll be performing in Bengaluru, India,” he added.
Talking about the future of classical Asian dance styles, he said, “Yes, of course, the influence of the west or say Hollywood is strong on the young people. However, Bollywood also exerts a lot influence on the youth in Asia. In fact, we have to make a difference between what is commercial art and what is serious art. Serious art for me includes art’s depth concentrating on new ways of human understanding. I am a very contemporary person. I have one leg on tradition and one on contemporary styles of dance. I think modernity can take place within traditional boundaries. I think only change is constant and we have to be very careful that the change is for better. We should not forget our past. From the past, we learn how to look after our future. To look who we are is very important. The Indian classical dance is one area that is still thriving and also changing. Unfortunately, Malay traditional dance is declining now. I think we should take care of our intangible heritage.”
While celebrating her 50th with vivacity, Shemain said, “We invited the artistes as their presence in Doha co-incided with my 50th birthday. We wanted to make the occasion special. Using the opportunity, we offered the traditional and classical dance show to the gathering. We really enjoyed the skilled performances. I am very happy that my daughter made her debut performance on my birthday.”
“My husband has a doctorate in history. He loves art, culture, literature, and history. Wherever he goes, he enjoys watching cultural activities of the host nations,” she said.
Regarding her stay in Qatar, Shemain said, “I have been here for a year now. Qatar came as a surprise for me. It is so safe and peaceful. I am pleased to see a lot of cultural activities happening around in Doha. There is so much variety and the access to all these activities is very easy. Qatar has done so much to promote various cultural activities.”
DEBUT: Sanah Thakur, the daughter of the ambassador, performing the classical Kathak dance.
PERFORMER: Ramli Ibrahim with Ewa Polano, Ambassador of Sweden, at the event.
PROWESS: Geethika Sree, an Odissi dancer, during her performance.
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