Shakti Dance Brings UNSPOKEN CONVERSATIONS to California State University Today
Unspoken Conversations is a dance theater production of two seminal works Yashodhara and Night End. Featuring five exemplary artists from India and Los Angeles, both works explore the resilience of the human spirit, its transformation and survival. Concept, Script, Direction, and Music Composition by Dr. Gowri Ramnarayan. Performance by Akhila Ramnarayan, Sheejith Krishna, Mythili Prakash, Gowri Ramnarayan. Indian classical vocals by Amritha Murali. Recognized as leaders for their virtuosity and originality in their fields, the artists created this production after a year of research in India. Performing to rave reviews in India, the production concludes its six city US tour at the Plaza Del Sol Performance Hall at California State University Northridge today, May 10, 2014. Unspoken Conversations is presented by Shakti Dance Company, Los Angeles.
Bharatanatyam and Kathakali dance from southern India, the beating of Chenda drums, tribal music of Rajasthan and paintings from the caves of Ajanta. This is the gorgeous setting for the two dance theater works. Inspired by Buddhist texts, poetry and indigenous people's history each narrative serves as a creative synthesis of the classical and contemporary to showcase this experimental, multi-genre production of music, dance and theater.
Regarded as the foremost contemporary and distinctive voice of Indian theater, Dr. Gowri Ramnarayan's acclaim stems from her inventive approach to drama by revitalizing the physicality, musicality and theatricality of dance to create an exceptional production that is distinct and meaningful to audiences across the world.
Yashodhara's husband is Siddartha who slips out of his bed chambers never to return for several years. He embarks on a spiritual quest that would inspire a new world religion- Buddhism. Yashodhara is confronted by abandonment and grief. The work explores her own personal journey within the palace walls. Night's End- Kathakali (south Indian dance) dancer- Krishna works as a forest guard in a tiger Sanctuary in Rajasthan. His encounters with the tiger hunting Mogiya tribals, the poaching mafia and his own desires make this a tale of change and globalization.
Tickets are $55, $35, and $22 for students. To purchase, call 818-677-3000, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.shaktibharatanatyam.com.
Playwright-director Dr Gowri Ramnarayan is a veteran writer and journalist with a lifetime's contribution to Indian performing arts, literature, and culture. She worked for 22 years with the national daily newspaper The Hindu (1989-2010), and served for over a decade as vocal accompanist to legendary Carnatic classical vocalist MS Subbulakshmi. Dr. Ramnarayan has a PhD in comparative aesthetics from the University of Madras, has translated two plays by the award-winning Marathi dramatist Vijay Tendulkar, and been a member of the Fipresci Jury of critics at international film festivals in London, Venice, Valladolid, Oslo and Mumbai. Her first play Dark Horse won two national-level Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards in 2007. In 2005, Dr. Ramnarayan founded JustUs Theatre Repertory, whose plays and productions have been staged at significant venues and performance festivals in major Indian cities. Her productions have featured many of the leading performing artistes of India. In September-October 2011, Dr. Ramnarayan presented a series of lectures and workshops on her multi-genre work in theatre at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), University of Iowa, University of Wisconsin (Madison), the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Stanford University, the University of Washington (Seattle), and for the Indian Fine Arts Academy in San Diego. Selections from her latest play, Night's End, were introduced by Gowri Ramnarayan and read by Swedish actors at the Women Playwrights' International Conference (15-20 August 2012) in Stockholm, organized by theatre companies in Sweden, Palestine and Lebanon. She is touring with 3 JustUs productions-Sarpa Sutra, Yashodhara and Night's End.
Mythili Prakash is recognized as one of the world's leading young exponents of Bharata Natyam - the classical dance of South India. Hailed a child prodigy, Mythili began her performance career at the age of eight. Mythili has toured worldwide, at prestigious venues such as Esplanade Theatres (Singapore), The Lowry (UK), Musee Guimet (Paris), Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Edinburgh) Chihuahua International Festival (Mexico), The Music Academy (India), Chicago World Festival (Chicago), Milapfest (UK). In 2013 she conceived and directed MARA a multimedia dance theater production featuring 35 musicians and dancers and presented at the Ford Theaters in Hollywood and supported by the LA County Arts Commission. While highly acclaimed for her technical and virtuosic skill as a performer, Mythili stays deeply rooted in the inherent spirituality of the art form, which is the driving inspiration of both her choreographic explorations and her own practice. It is this, that she believes fuels her artistic and personal journey. She began her training in the Thanjavur tradition of Bharata Natyam under the tutelage of her mother, Smt. Viji Prakash.
Sheejit Krishna, versatile dancer-choreographer and percussionist, studied, and then taught, at the prestigious Kalakshetra Foundation, for 21 years (1989-2010). Now director of his own Sahrdaya Foundation, he is winner of the Sangeet Natak Akademi's Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar (2007) and the Sri Krishna Gana Sabha's Yagnaraman Award for Excellence in Dance (2010). Recently, he has choreographed the dance sequences for Ang Lee's Oscar winning Life of Pi. He has collaborated with director Gowri Ramnarayan on ten JustUs productions since 2009.
A literary scholar and theatre artiste, Akhila Ramnarayan been an active member of JustUs Theatre Repertory since 2007 in a variety of roles (acting, singing, production, scripting) and is a core member of the Sahrdaya Foundation. She served as Assistant Professor of English and postcolonial studies at the University of Dayton, Ohio (2006-2011), and teaches at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. She has been an active member of JustUs Theatre Repertory since 2007 in a variety of roles (acting, singing, production, scripting) and is a core member of the Sahrdaya Foundation.
Amritha Murali belongs to a family of music connoisseurs. She is the disciple of carnatic vocalists Vidvan Late Sri K R Kedaranathan, Vidushi Smt Meera Kedaranathan, and Vidushi Smt Rama Ravi and Vidvan Sri P.S.Narayanaswamy. She is also an accomplished violinist and disciple of Vidushi Smt.T.Rukmini. Amritha has received numerous prestigious awards including the title of "Isai Chudar" from Kartik Fine Arts, Chennai, "Yuva Kala Bharathi" from Bharat Kalachar, Chennai, Kalki Krishnamurthy memorial award and the title of 'Nada Oli' from Nada Inbam, Chennai.
Justus Repertory produces new work that blends music, dance, and drama to explore historical, political, and literary experiences. JustUs collaborates with artists from various disciplines to produce innovative, theatrical, and international ventures.
Established in 1981 by director/dancer/teacher/choreographer Viji Prakash in Los Angeles, CA, the Shakti Dance Company is the performing division of the Shakti School of Bharata Natyam, known for its rigorous training and excellence of standards. For more information, visit www.shaktibharatanatyam.com.