We’re lucky here in Santa Fe…lucky that so many people want to come here and that so many talented people are happy to perform here! Lucky too, that we have our excellent Lensic Performing Arts Center (soon to celebrate a 10th anniversary!) providing a venue that always sets a beautifully memorable backdrop for the unusual arts that wend their way to the City Different.
One of those unusual events happens this week, and we have only one chance to see it. The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble of Southern India will be appearing at the Lensic on Friday night, April 8, 2011 for a single performance. In conjunction with the Lensic, the generous minds behind the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, who celebrate dance in all its global permutations, have brought this internationally acclaimed company and the entrancing choreography of Surpa Sen to help the West dream of the East.
Founded by Protima Gauri (whose life was tragically cut short in 1998), Nrityagram is the realization of her “dream of building a community of dancers in a forsaken place amidst nature. A place where nothing exists, except dance. A place where you breathe, eat, sleep, dream, talk, imagine – dance. A place where all the five senses can be refined to perfection. A place where dancers drop negative qualities such as jealousy, small-mindedness, greed and malice to embrace their colleagues as sisters and support each other in their journey towards becoming dancers of merit.” A worthy goal, indeed!
The dancers of the company follow a lifestyle that centers on the age-old Gurukul tradition, an ancient method that helps students repay their training through care for their Guru. This encompasses a broad array of duties, from cultivating and cooking to performing dance recitals to earn living expenses. At Nrityagram, the institution itself is the Guru, a protector which offers knowledge and experience to trainees inspired by its goals. Along with naturally intensive dance training, students study Indian literature, mythology and poetry, as well as music and the history of dance and dance theory. Their classes also include Sanskrit, aesthetics, philosophy and spiritual thought, and workshops offered in martial arts, yoga, and mime help to improve stance and energy. Meditation practice inculcates an awareness of the inter-relatedness of the arts and helps to focus the many-faceted training into creating a dancer who is ready to go out into the world and fully represent these traditions.
This is a performance sure to transport dance-lovers to magical and spiritual heights through the sensuous flow of Odissi, one of the oldest of India’s classical dance forms. Ancient wisdom, sacred ritual, and divine transformation are all interpreted through a magnetic mixture of music and movement. Set to an original score for a stunning ensemble of female dancers, whose exceptional synchronicity, compelling physicality and emotional honesty will fill the stage and the soul, this is a night out that shouldn’t be missed!
Photos courtesy of the Lensic Performing Arts Center and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet; all rights reserved.