SMITHA RAJAN DRIVE EAST 2014 FESTIVAL
August 15, 2014
As part of the Drive East concert series, performers came together at La MaMa Theater to showcase traditional Indian dance and music. The week long series presents various classical forms of Indian dance performed by artists and schools from across the United States. On Wednesday night it was Smitha Rajan and her company that graced the stage.
It is impossible to describe the intricacies in which Rajan manipulated her face and body from the moment she walked onto the stage. Graceful control and feeling abounded as Rajan performed the south Indian dance form of Mohiniattam. Drawing the eye to her at all times, Rajan moved through the space of the stage taking on characters and emotions in fascinating ways. It was pure joy to see such a master perform these stories of Rama and other Hindu gods.
Her precise and stunning performance made it no surprise that the members of her junior company matched her level of energy and commitment. Those three young women were dazzling, clad in the same white costumes, including fan skirt and ankle bells. Working in the circular array of movements essential to the form, these women told vivacious tales, each of them commanding the stage when their solo commenced. Together they complemented each other in the details and fluidity of the stories they expressed.
In the final piece of the evening, another solo by Rajan, she completely consumed the gaze of each audience member as she performed. Elegantly displaying each small hand gesture, known as a mudra, Rajan finished each minute layer in a fluid and captivating fashion. Mohiniattam is a breathtaking dance form and to watch it performed so expertly was truly a treat.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller