So many well-deserved superlatives have been uttered about this legendary dancer and choreographer – his storytelling performances in classical ballet, modern dance and Indian classical dances like odissi have illuminated stages and ignited imaginations in all corners of the globe. Yet as equally-moving is seeing the fire in his eyes, across a table, as Datuk Ramli speaks with gusto about cultivating and fostering Malaysia’s artistic heritage.
His words are rousing but, rather than being dance-like interpretative, are direct. “Sourcing and supporting original work is crucial. Art is not about aggressive-commercialisation, profit and the bottom line. It needs to thrive because it is essential to the fabric of society. In terms of nation- building, gleaming buildings are the ‘front’, but art and culture, humanities and social sciences provide the content” – just one stanza of his impassioned train of thought.
His legacy, Sutra Foundation will continue being in the eye of the storm, a lighthouse for cultural performances and the non-commercially artistic, who gravitate to Ramli with good reason. He champions creativity and allowing the Arts to breathe, because, as he eloquently puts it, “art is one of the best antidotes to extremist behaviour in Society. It opens the mind”. Suffice to say, be it with opinion or through performance, the divine Datuk Ramli gains the spotlight.