East Indians who arrived in Guyana 175 years ago were remembered for the contributions they made towards the preservation of their cultural tradition when the 34th edition of Nitryageet was hosted at the National Cultural Centre on Saturday evening.
Members of the Nadira and Indranie Shah Dance troupe
The evening saw some quality kathak dances by the Nadira and Indranie Shah Dance Troupe and others which did not please section sof the audience, especially the young people. There was a lack of proper lighting to accompany the performances, little emceeing and as a result of this, there was little explanation given about the dance routines.
From all indications, there were also some very poor programming skills which left the audience a bit confused during the event. Nevertheless, the kathak dance pieces were the highlight of the evening as they were beautifully choreographed, but still, there was a clear disconnection with the audience.
After a slow beginning which saw sections of the audience getting agitated, the saucy dances livened up the night and put some smiles on the faces of patrons. While there were some excellent costumes, the stage lighting did not do justice to them.
At the beginning of the night’s proceedings, there were depictions of the two ships that brought the East Indians to Guyana, a few projected snapshots of the first group of East Indians to have arrived on the local shores. These depictions were done on projector screens.
Dr Seeta Shah Roth talks about Indian contributions to Guyana
The first set of dance routines included “Vandana”, which was done by the Nadira and Indranie Shah Dance Troupe, followed by “Into the light” by the National School of Dance and “Allah bless us with love” by a group comprising some children who were extremely adorable.
This was followed by “Roots of the people”, a poetic piece done by Dr Shah Roth, who stated during her presentation that Guyanese ancestors embraced the cane and rice fields, and became one with the New World. Today, East Indian has become members of a thriving diverse society. Her poem was accompanied by the sounds of African drumming. By this time, well known poet Russell Lancaster introduced Yesu Persaud, who reiterated that East Indians brought a rich history of colour, dance and traditions from India 175 years ago.
Persaud added that upon their arrival, the East Indians were treated harshly, but they were determined and persevered and today, they have stood the test of time. He added that due to the hardship in the earlier times, 30 per cent of the indentured labourers went back and the rest stayed in Guyana to start a new life.
His presentation was followed by that of a little member of the Shah family, Ashley Shah, who spoke about her family and the many contributions they have made to keep the Indian culture alive. As the evening went on, there were some splendid performances by Nadira Shah-Berry. By this time, the evening had kicked into high gear.
A kathak duet performed by Suzanne Shaw and Raywattie De Costa also left the audience mesmerised as they showcased the depth of their dancing talents. Both women were in control and performed to perfection. Another spectacular performance was that of a folk dance done by the beginner class of the Nadira and Indranie Shah Dance Troupe, which left the audience amazed with their moves. At this time, a special dance presentation was expected from Bibi Haniff, she could not make it. The show continued with folk dances, dance medleys to faster paced music, a kathak solo and one very exciting dance piece called “massala” performed by Karen Ramlal. The night also saw a touching tribute to Indranie Shah by her niece, Suzanne Shah.