BWW Review: Celebrating the Legacy of INDIAN DANCE IN AMERICA

April 27-30, 2017 was a special limited engagement to celebrate the history and scope of Indian dance in America at the Theater at the 14th Street Y. The production is part of the a series of dances by the collective, From the Horse's Mouth, conceived and directed by Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham. This particular program was curated by Rajika Puri- an internationally acclaimed Indian classical dancer. The show was dedicated to the late Balasaraswati- a celebrated Bharatanatyam dancer who was instrumental in making the South Indian classical dance style popular throughout different parts of India and around the world.

This was a unique performance full of dance, history, and personal stories. The cast featured over 20 dancers including Uttara Coolawala, Sonali Skandan, Jeeno Joseph, Prashant Shah, and Minal Mehta to name a few. Each dancer had a few moments to talk about what Indian dance means to them and how they got introduced to the art form. It was wonderful to hear so many stories ranging from Indian dance pioneers to the new and current generation of dancers. What a powerful experience to see the impact dance had on their lives. They spoke about everything from the dance's beauty to the challenges they faced during their training as they tried to find their own voice.

As each dancer spoke, whether they were able to be here in person or on a recorded video, there were a number of performers who were improvising in the background. It was just lovely to watch them embody their stories. It was an enriching experience to be able to see generations of dancers all on one stage. Indian classical dance is truly a special art and a beautiful way to tell stories. Watching them move with such grace, soft hands, effortless spins, and expressive faces is amazing. I also appreciate the percussive aspects of this dance which can be seen through the stomps with bells wrapped around their ankles. So much can be said through our body language.

The presence of Indian dance has had a huge impact in America, particularly in modern dance. Notable choreographers such as Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, and Jack Cole, have been influenced by the unique essence found in Indian dance. It was wonderful to hear the many stories of such renowned Indian dancers. It was a great evening!

From the Horse's Mouth, conceived and directed by Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham, produces a production that is to showcase or feature a specific group of performers/dancers. Here, while telling a personal story from their life, the dancers create and improvise their own movement- making each piece a unique and special "one time only" event. Featuring approximately 20-25 performers, this is an unequalled way to tell and preserve the stories that make the rich history of dance and stories of dancers.

For more information, please visit their website

Photo Credit: Peter Chen

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From This Author Caryn Cooper

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