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Choreography merges the Afro-Cuban and Indian culture

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Image source: defenceforumindia.com

Growing up in India, choreographer Ranjana Warier knew little about Afro-Cuban culture.

“I knew Cuba existed. That was it,” she recalls with a laugh. “I knew there was Cuba, and I knew there was Africa, but I had no exposure whatsoever.”

Today, Warier is the artistic director of “Surya: The Eternal Rhythm,” a project that merges Afro-Cuban and Indian cultures through dance, poetry and music. The show, a 2014 winner of a Knight Arts Challenge grant by the Knight Foundation, will take place Saturday, April 2, at the Wolfson Campus Auditorium at Miami Dade College.

“We all might talk differently, and we might portray things differently, but when you look deep down, it appears to be the same human spirit shining through different kinds of lights,” she says. “That is actually very encouraging, especially in today’s world. Many of us think we’re quite different, and that’s where conflicts start. But when you start understanding diversity a little bit better, you realize how close we are.”

The project started with a poem by Miami-based poet Adrian Castro, who often writes about Afro-Caribbean culture, history and myths. Lissette Mendez, director of Miami Book Fair International, introduced Warier to Castro’s poetry, and his work immediately absorbed her.

She was so moved by one poem, titled “Clay, Chalk and Charcoal” and inspired by the African religion Yoruba, that she based a new choreography on it.

“I lost track of how many times I read it. It’s a like a Renoir, [in] that the longer you look, you start seeing the details and all the different things,” Warier says. “I read it over and over, and each time I felt I was adding one more piece of the puzzle, not knowing what I was putting together. It seemed it had many layers, and as a dancer, I could just feel the rhythm.”

Warier describes her choreography as a “visualization of Afro-Caribbean poetry through Indian dances.” She uses classical and folk Indian styles, not Bollywood. Her show also features the Miami-based Afro-Cuban dance company IFE-ILE. Castro will read the poem before the show, and a panel discussion on the creation of the project will follow the performance.

While developing “Surya,” Warier says she was surprised by how many similarities she found between the two cultures.

“I just want people not to be afraid to collaborate with people who might look very different from you,” Warier says. “Maybe you use that experience to understand their cultures, and hopefully that brings more tolerance. And if not for anything else, it’s good to know more about what else is out there.”

Credits:  Barbara Corbellini Duarte

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Mexican-Punjabis relation through dance

Mexican-Punjabi is a vanishing tribe

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the performance held on 10th and 11th april credits: kalw.org

BY MEGHA SHARMA

The United States had always been an open land to possibilities. It is visited by a huge number of immigrants every year. California which is not only a land of renowned universities, it consists of various fertile farmlands which gave opportunity to numerous Indians who wanted to have a hand in the agricultural field.

It is recorded that through Canada many people from Punjabi communities came here to grow peach and plums. However, restrictive immigration stratagem didn’t allow these outsiders to find a wife in their countries. As a result, what came out were interracial marriages of these refugees and the native Mexican women who used to work in the farms.

This gave rise to cultural amalgamation and this intermixing is now at the end of its league as the generations of this sub-culture are reaching the end of their lives. To overcome such a drastic loss a new dance series “Half and Halves” has been organised.

This dance series is a result of pairing up of the “Dance and drum company” (specialising in Bhangra) based in San Francisco and the Ensembles Ballet Folklorico de San Francisco (focussed on the traditional Mexican Dance) to showcase the cultural mix.

The show is a series of dances depicting the cultural ties and also exploring the marriages in the early 20th Century, which created a unique multiplicity of cultural engagements.

The dance is not a regular rehearsal for the traditional Mexicans but inculcate a fusion of the two styles emerging at last as collaborative force.

A record of the dialogues shared with the children of this mixed race is presented in the dances. This traditional fusion is also depicted in the cremation practices. It is registered that “Even though the mothers were Catholic and the fathers were for the most part Sikh, they found a way to merge their traditions while still staying true to their religions. Like the story of a Sikh father who was cremated, and then his ashes laid to rest in the grave next to his wife.”

The couples shared eternal love based on joyful intermingling of their professions and a mutual love for dance. While talking of the communication they would share it is said that “Foreign language is an apt metaphor for the show’s deeper meaning, because these couples didn’t share a native language — they communicated through English.”

a Punjabi-Mexican family
a Punjabi-Mexican family

The dancers from both the troupes try to learn each other’s dance form by learning a certain gesture one day or a different move another. The artistic director of Duniya surprisingly tells of this crucial juncture in the crossing of these cultures as being negotiated for a long time. Herself being an offspring of this race, she considers it to be a significant part in the lives if these Mexican-Indian.

Megha is a student at the University of Delhi. She is pursuing her Masters in English and has also done her studies in German Language. Twitter: @meghash06510344

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Traditional dance representing cross-cultural connection of India and Paisley

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image source: abhinaya.org

Paisley’s cross-cultural connections took centre stage in a unique blend of traditional and fusion style dance celebrating Indian culture and heritage.

The annual Abhinaya Dance Showcase – held in Paisley for the first time in support of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 – saw almost 80 students of all ages from the West of Scotland perform classical Indian style Bharatanatyam and contemporary dance in front of a packed audience.

Paisley 2021 Bid Director even put a spotlight on Paisley’s ambitions by lighting the traditional festival lamp for the opening ceremony of the event.
The youngest dancers from the Abhinaya Dance Academy then took to the stage, starting a fast-paced extravaganza that featured a traditional peacock dance and fusion style dance-ercise.

The event also saw 15 senior students receive Salangai Pooja, the traditional ankle bells worn by dancers that have completed formal study of Bharatanatyam.

Paisley’s Indian roots are best known through the Paisley Pattern, the town’s global brand which descended from the original kashmiri shawls, made famous by the town’s weavers.

Earlier this year the Paisley Pattern featured in the cross-cultural fashion show in Paisley Abbey in a showcase of students’ work from India and their Scottish counterparts in Glasgow Kelvin College.

And while the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 is retelling Paisley’s unique story of its one time place at the centre of the global textile industry, the town is also building upon its diverse cultural scene.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board, said: “We’ve been getting out into the community finding out what makes Paisley’s culture and discovering some unique gems showcasing the town’s past but also present and future.

“The Abhinaya show was a fantastic mix of Indian and contemporary dance styles, a perfect combination showcasing the town’s cross-cultural links.

“Paisley’s connection to India is important for the town. Our global brand – the Paisley Pattern – is a significant part of our town’s weaving heritage and instantly recognisable today.

“The iconic design, which descended from the original kashmiri shawls, made an enormous impact on the town’s economy during the 1800s, and it’s a key part of the town’s ambitious regeneration plans and the bid for UK City of Culture 2021.”

Mrs Esther Sunija Binu of Abhinaya Dance Academy said: “We were all so proud to showcase the South Asian culture and dance to the town and bringing people from multicultural backgrounds together through culture.

“On behalf of the Abhinaya Dance Academy I would like to thank everyone who has supported us to make this Dance Showcase a grand and a memorable event, especially Jean Cameron, Abhinaya’s dance students, Paisley Town Hall and the Big Lottery Fund. I also like to thank everyone for the appreciative and positive comments after the show; this will encourage students to perform at higher levels.

Credits: http://m.barrheadnews.com/

 

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Kathakali: Cultural preserver of classic tales

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www.upload.wikimedia.org

By Akash Shukla

Based on Hinduism and charged with powerful drama, it unfolds drama, devotion, dance, and music. Kathakali does it all to create one of the most impressive forms of sacred theatre in the world.

Embracing centuries of tradition and culture, it is not just a dance-drama but a devotion act showcasing the perennial tug-of-war between good and evil.

From then to now, Kathakali continues to provide a window into the past and a sneak peek into the ancient traditions. Kathakali plays embalm these traditions and have preserved it for centuries now.

Indian tradition of story-telling has been beautifully carried forward through Kathakali as it dances and dramatises to carry forward the classic tales from one generation to the other.

 

The Origin

Apart from drawing its inspiration from the magnificent sculptures of temples depicting gods and goddesses of Ramayana and Mahabharatha, Kathakali also draws its encouragement from the temple rituals and from the classical drama forms, namely, Koodiyattam, Kootha, and Krishnanattam.

To preserve the meaning, essence, and spirituality, Brahmin priests (Namboodiri) memorized the stories and passed them on to the next generation.

Despite the king’s prowess in the area, Namboodiris wielded a lot of power and they played a pivotal role in preserving the stories, upholding the law and developing the spirituality.

When Brahmins travelled and settled in various parts of India, the culture and classic tales went along with them to innumerable places nationwide.

Hundreds of years later, these sacred tales were performed in the temple. And, the whole community vividly experienced the life of their ancestors and their story of evolution in material and spirituality.

 

Kathakali and its types

Known as Sampradäyaṃ (Malayalam: സമ്പ്രദായം); there are three leading Kathakali styles that differ from each other in subtleties but clear demarcations like gestures, hand positions choreographic profile, and stress on dance than drama. Many-a-time it was the other way round and the stress was on drama than dance. Out of the lot, the three Kathakali styles are:

Kalladikkodan Sampradyam, Vettathu Sampradayam

Kaplingadu Sampradayam

Of late, all Kathakali styles have boiled down to the northern Kalluvazhi and southern Thekkan styles.

Northern Kalluvazhi style was majorly developed by legend Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon (1881-1949). It is implemented in Kerala Kalamandalam. However, this department also teaches the southern style).

Kathakali’s fame, claim and contemporary offshoots

Drawing its roots from Kathakali techniques and aesthetics and stylised and developed by legend Guru Gopinath in the mid-20th century, Kerala Natanam dances its way to existence as a part Kathakali dance form.

Kathakali finds expression in Malayalam feature films like ParinayamMarattam,Vanaprastham, and Rangam.

Many docu-features and documentaries have been shot on Kathakali artistes like Keezhpadam Kumaran Nair, Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, Raman Pillai, Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair, Kottakkal Sivaraman, Kalamandalam Gopi, and Chenganoor.

 

Foraying into fiction, Kathakali finds place in Malayalam short story ‘Karmen’ by NS Madhavan and space in novels like ‘Keshabharam’ by PV Sreevalsan.

Arundhati Roy’s Booker prize-winning The God of Small Things witnesses a chapter on Kathakali

Even the Indo-Anglian work like Arundhati Roy‘s Booker prize-winning The God of Small Things has a chapter on Kathakali.

If the hope for Kathakali wasn’t already far from over, Anita Nair’s novel Mistress, which is suffused with the ethos of Kathakali, adds another feather to the cap of this Lit-cultural dancing saga…