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The Trinayan Collective - Sakshi/Witness

by Robert Abrams
April 16, 2006
Joyce Soho
155 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10012
212-431-9233
The Trinayan Collective
365 West 36 Street, Suite #3W
New York, NY 10018
212-268-0590
info@trinayan.org
www.trinayan.org

See the complete program
The Trinayan Collective can be admired for the professional level of their performances and their technical skill. The Trinayan Collective is truly admirable because their high level of performance is produced by amateurs. They are extremely dedicated to their art, but they earn their living with something other than dance. Sylvia Lim is a human resources professional. Sambrita Basu is a Medical Research Analyst. Nandini Sikand is an Independent filmmaker, pursuing a Ph.D. Nalini Singh is a Paralegal. Kakoli Mukherjee is a Finance Executive. Bani Ray works for the United States Postal Service. Parthasarathi Mukhopadhyay is an IT Executive with a bank. Ananda Chanda works in Securities & Trading.

For this set of performances, The Trinayan Collective danced to the sounds of live musicians for the first time. Just like the dancers, the musicians were dedicated amateurs. I couldn't tell, either that they were amateurs or that this was the first time that the musicians and dancers had worked together.

Bani Ray, the Collective's teacher, worked with the musicians starting in December. All of the musicians were new to Odissi - they have regular jobs. They rehearsed three times a week for five hours a day for two to three months. As I said, these may be amateurs with regular jobs, but they are very dedicated.

The show started with Alaap (prelude). The company let the audience in on their preparation for performance by showing their warm-up exercises. The dancers paid their respects - with a Sun salutation, by begging pardon of Mother Earth for dancing on her body, and to the musicians. They stretched arms and legs, each on their own, but forming a tableau, dressed in simple colored tunics.

The next work of the evening, New York City Sthayee, was a daring combination of video and live dance. The work started with lavish footage of the dancers preparing their feet and hands with bells and paint. Four dancers performed on the stage while four dancers performed in the video, which was shot at various New York City landmarks such as Central Park and Times Square. At times the video became a fifth dancer integrated with the live dance. At other times the video mirrored the live dance. Symbolic gestures inscribed the space, marking transitions from one posture to the next. The video was well shot and the integration between the video and the live dance was very well done. The two components combined to create a single choreography that make sense as a whole.

Ke Elo Sojoni? displays a woman's emotional reaction to Krishna, who has taken the form of an enticing flute player standing beneath a Kadamba tree. Bani Ray was superb dancing conflicting emotions. She expressed both reticence and desire for Krishna. She peered through the trees, afraid to approach. She pranced like a gazelle, full of confidence and fluid motion. She fell to the ground, overcome, dreaming of Krishna. She danced faster. In the end, she danced happy, but exited chaste.

Rageshri Pallavi was a pure dance work showcasing intricate shapes formed by the positioning of the dancers. The dance started with the "square position", which both comes from and is dedicated to the deity. Dancers walked on with candles. One dancer moved while two watched her, wearing elaborate outfits with headdresses. All three danced. I liked all of the dancers, but I thought the dancers who smile are more inticing - they drew me in. One danced offset. They used precise hand gestures. The bells on the dancers' feet added to the drummers' rhythm. Now there were offsets of two. The dancers flowed across the stage forming and reforming lines and triangles. The dance ended in a tableau.

A Dialogue with Death: The Story of Savitri is a classic tale told with movement and narration by Rajika Puri. I have seen her perform this work before. She infuses the story with such energy that it never gets old, no matter how many times I see her perform it. The basic story: Savitri, a princess, searches all over the world for her mate. She finally finds him, but he is a simple woodcutter. She marries him anyway and they are happy. Death comes to take her husband, but Savitri tricks death into giving back her father's kingdom, and giving her back her husband's life. Ms. Puri dances and narrates all of the characters, including portraying Death with a mask on the back of her head (it isn't easy dancing backwards). Keeping in mind that on the whole I think Ms. Puri does an amazing job, I have a couple of suggestions. At the end of the story, the mask that had been Death becomes the husband. It is pretty clear what is going on, but she might want to try painting a different face on the inside of the mask. I also think that while this work is great as is, it could also be cool to update the story to the modern era, either as a stage performance or as a filmed story.

The final work of the night, Moskha, showed off more appealing choreography. Two lines of three dancers each merged and split apart. The dancers rotated around the stage. They bounced in the vertical and spun in the horizontal. At the end, five dancers formed an arch around one seated dancer in a beautiful tableau.

Throughout the entire evening, one person sat off to the side of the stage, meditating, never moving, bearing witness. Daring in her contrast of stillness to the movement of the rest of the dancers.

If you like classical Indian dancers who are also not afraid to experiment, don't miss The Trinayan Collective the next time they perform.
The Trinayan Collective

The Trinayan Collective

Photo © & courtesy of Jay Mandal


The Trinayan Collective

The Trinayan Collective

Photo © & courtesy of Jay Mandal


The Trinayan Collective

The Trinayan Collective

Photo © & courtesy of Jay Mandal


The Trinayan Collective

The Trinayan Collective

Photo © & courtesy of Jay Mandal

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