Sydney Opera House: Rasa UnMasked

Rasa Unmasked at the Sydney Opera House, is a moving performance that takes you on a journey exploring different human emotions through contemporary dance.
Sydney Opera House: Rasa UnMasked
Rasa Unmasked is a moving performance that takes you on a journey exploring different human emotions through contemporary dance. The intense soundscape and stage presence of the dancers makes it an unforgettable experience. The piece is a result of the collaborations between Anandavalli & Australia’s Lingalayam Dance Company in collaboration with Ramli Ibrahim & Malaysia’s Sutra Dance Theatre and American/Chinese composer/musician, Alex Dea. The coming together of artists from different parts of the world creates a piece which transcends all cultural barriers. With a strong focus on human emotions, the dance is universal. Alex Dea’s soundscape is performed live to the right of the stage. It’s an intense mix of Javanese gamelan and Carnatic Indian vocals and percussion. I had never heard vocals which created such unusual sounds that were often startling but always in tune with what was happening center stage. The use of instruments such as drums and bells chimed as the dancers moved responding to the sounds and the atmosphere as it changed around them. Transitions from one scene to the other were obvious, with strong distinctions in the sounds and the dancers’ movements and expression. Rasa Unmasked explores human emotion by revealing the nine key sentiments of rasa: sringara (love), veera (heroism or valour), karuna(compassion), adbhuta (wonderment), hasya (mirth and laughter), bhaya (terror), bibhatsa (disgust), raudra (anger) and shanta (serenity). The dancers use an array of masks and intense facial expressions to take the audience on a journey. These emotions are clear as we visit each one. Often there was a strong reliance on facial expression only accompanied by subtle movements to express to the audience the next phase of the journey. Masks often were worn on the back of the head as the dancers frolicked across the stage sideward. In these instances costumes were also worn on backwards. This created some haunting visuals. The costumes were a mix of traditional Malaysian and Indian attire. Often soft fabrics were used by the dancing swirling the stage creating a mystical scene. In one scene a dancer had her entire torso wrapped in soft silky fabric. A demonic creature held the end of her tether only allowing her to stray so far. Although very simple, this was a very powerful scene. Her constant struggle of unwinding herself and the tugging of her slayer mixed with intense facial expressions made for a great performance. The dancers are able to transport the audience into their world. The relatively small space of the studio means you are up and close with the dancers and can see every flexed foot and hand gesture closely. A powerful contemporary dance both beautiful and meaningful. Rasa UnMasked at the Sydney Opera House Tickets: Adults $35, Concession $30 Venue: The Studio, Sydney Opera House Season: 13th March- 15th March Duration: 80 minutes, no interval

Katie Preston Toepfer

Tuesday 17 March, 2009

About the author

Katie Preston Toepfer is a writer, photographer,short film maker and installation artist and is currently working in PR/marketing while studying her Masters in journalism. She has studied Fine Arts at the College of Fine Arts,NSW University obtaining a bachelor of fine arts majoring in time-based art. Katie has also studied photography at the National Art School. She has exhibited and sold photographic work at Burl Gallery and has had works in many exhibitions at both COFA, Kudos and Pine Street Galleries. Katie enjoys making short films and has had screenings at various galleries in Sydney including having one film screened at the Newtown Flicks Festival in 2006. She also loves performance work and has performed at La Franchis. Currently Katie is an event photographer for a social media website and in her current place of work writes informational blogs for visitors and has recently scripted and directed three short video works for a current promotion. She has started her own blog and continues to exhibit her artwork and write pieces of fiction as well as poetry.