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Nrityagram Dance Ensemble / Chitrasena Dance Company: Āhuti
17 February @ 7.30 pm - 9.00 pmFree but pre-register
A streamed performance of one of the more innovative, exhilarating and contemporary examples of collaborative classical dance companies from the Indian subcontinent.
Kandyan dance, regarded as the classical dance style of Sri Lanka, is muscular and dynamic. Traditionally performed only by male dancers, the technique focuses on powerful footwork, leaps and whirls. By contrast, Odissi – one of the oldest of classical Indian dance forms – is performed mostly by women, and it includes more than 50 formalised body movements that result in a lyrical, complex, and often sensuous style.
“The two seem to complete each other almost as if they were always waiting to be married,” says Surupa Sen. She is artistic director, choreographer and principal dancer of the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble – and of Āhuti, the latest collaboration between Nrityagram Dance Ensemble’s Odissi and the Kandyan dance of the Chitrasena Dance Company.
Their first collaborative piece premiered in 2012 and toured internationally to great success; a repeat in 2017/8 took the dance to London, Colombo and the States. “Each visit is a gift,” said the New York Times dance critic. “The interplay of styles is exciting and illuminating”.
In London, the Financial Times review commended the choreography: “Surupa Sen brilliantly met the challenge of classical dance – how it might speak in the language of now without being wrenched from its foundation”.
Now comes Āhuti, their second joint work – “because the first time was so joyful and fruitful”. The dance is fluid and precise, choreographed again by Surupa Sen and performed to a group of five musicians playing ragas. Chitrasena’s Kandyan form leans towards the muscular, vertical, and athletic; the movements in Nrityagram’s Odissi are more sinuous, giving it a rare lyricism that marks it as noticeably different from other classical Indian dances”. Both styles are rooted in ancient religious rituals, though – the classical dance forms of the Indian subcontinent have always been considered a way to devote yourself to God through art – and both feature percussive music. The resulting piece is a reciprocation of differing styles, shifting from one to the other.
This performance was filmed in September 2019 at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bangalore. It is being shown online by The Arts Center at NYUAD for one night only (17 February at 7.30pm) – and it really should not be missed.