Performing Arts: Dance
September 8, 2014
Traditional Indian dance is no longer a curiosity dance form in NYC, because of the efforts of organizations like IAAC, Drive East, Asia Society and a handful of individual promoters. At Pace University, IAAC organized two days of lectures, interviews, symposia, workshops, classes and performances as part of the Erasing Borders Festival of Indian Dance Indoors at Pace Schimmel Center.

The program, introduced by Aroon Shivdasani, drew together five very discreet Indian dance artists with roots and traditional dance stretching into contemporary dance. All the artists were fine dancers, but a couple very successfully knitted the traditional into the modern without any loss of integrity.

An astonishing array of crystal clear micro movements of the hands, head and feet snapped during D. Mitul Sengupta’s presentation of an episode from the Kurukshetra War in the Mahabharata. After a blazing display of her hands and forearms crossing and opening, she rippled around the stage in a blur of fast, tight turns—moving with the speed of a Tasmanian devil an the serenity of a Buddha.

Urban dance meets traditional form in Veena Basavarajaiah’s “Morphed” performed by the very cheeky Subhash Viman. Wearing western style shirt and pants, Viman astutely slips from the traditional, centered Indian dance structures to the liquid moves and beats issuing from the urban streets.

Emily McLoughlin and Leah Raphael Curtis of Delhi Dance Theater performed “Not Your Mother” to live music performed by Abhik Mukherjee (sitar), Eric Fraser (Bansuri) and Ehren Hanson (table). Contemporary dance forms surface in leg lifts curving to the back, and lyrically floating arms, but the combination of modern dance and Kathak did not express a strong individuality. Carl Jung crosses over Saiva Siddhanta/Philosophy in Manikkavasagar’s Sivapuranam in Mesma Belsare’s enigmatic “The Vermin’s Will.”

The program closed with “We Used To See This” choreographed by the performer Meena Murugesan in collaboration with Shyamala Moorty. Some audience members were seated on stage in folding chairs, forming a silent chorus for the solo. Intent on exploring the presentation of bharatanatyam-based dances in a multitude of spaces, the adept performer Murugesan, skipped from one image to another without ever drawing the circle into a cohesive whole.

By the end, the enthusiastic audience got a taste of the past and future in Indian dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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