Camaraderie between two classical performing arts from different continents contrasted tastefully with the rancour displayed by the mythological characters, as Kathakali and Flamenco gracefully joined hands on the stage in the capital to perform a violent episode from the Mahabharata. The Kathakali-Flamenco fusion dance was organised by Kerala Tourism, the Cervantes Institute and the Embassy of Spain as part of the Delhi International Arts Festival.
Even as the plot essayed the depth of vengeance between the Pandavas and Kauravas in the ancient Indian epic, the performers of the Kerala ballet and Spanish dance-and-song form entertained the gathering on Sunday evening by presenting ‘The Killing of Dussasana’ as part of the ongoing Delhi International Arts Festival.
“This collaborative endeavour is the first of its kind,” said César Lorente Ratón, the Spanish director of the 75-minute production that was shown at the ongoing fete by UCO Productions and La Holandesa Errante Films in collaboration with Kerala Tourism, the Cervantes Institute and the Embassy of Spain.
Ratón’s compatatriot Tamar Gonzalez, a Madrid-based ballerina with immense international experience, donned the role of Draupadi, while young Kathakali artiste Kalamandalam Bijukumar performed as her husband, the mighty Bhima. N Bijulal (Dussasana) and A N Gireesan were the other artistes on the stage, which had background music from a guitar besides the chenda and maddalam drums to lend a different audio-visual experience to an otherwise familiar scene in Kathakali.
At 38, Ratón shares nearly a decade-long relation with India, more specifically with Kerala. His cooperation with the southern state’s tourism department started way back in 2004. “It has been my source of inspiration for this work,” notes Ratón, who was producer on the location in his country for the 2012 Malayalam movie Spanish Masala. Bijukumar, a senior Kathakali student at Kalamandalam in central Kerala, has shown his craft at seminars at the ESAD (Superior School of Dramatic Arts), Murcia, where the The Killing of Dussasana was first staged in 2009. He and Bijulal had also spoken at symposia at the Carlos III University in 2008.
As for the guitarist in the production unit, Julián Vaquero graduated in 1994 from the Madrid Royal Conservatory in harmony and classical guitar. He travels to Mexico to do some courses on Latin harmony and to study about South American music. It was in 1983 that he started his career as a flamenco guitarist in “tablaos” of Madrid, and has since been performing internationally with top Spanish artistes.