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Indo American Arts Council and Asia Society Team Up

by Marian Horosko
June 6, 2010
New York, NY
The third year of Erasing Borders: Festival of India Dance and the Indo American Arts Council partnering with the Asia Society presented a banquet of Indian dance June 4-6 at the Asia Society & Museum on Park Avenue.

June 5 featured workshops and panel discussions, while Sunday, June 6, in addition to more workshops and discussions, assembled concert groups in a "cushion concert" Indian-fashion with guests sitting on the floor.

As its third year Erasing Borders, represented the diversity of current dance forms that reference India and Indianness — -traditional, classical, folk, vernacular and dance-theatre. The forms represented included Kathak, Odissi, Bharatanatym and post-modern forms. In one work, the text danced mentions Krishna and Radha, the figures that impressed our own Ruth St. Denis into world-wide travel and choreographic invention as Radha and eventually into contributing to our own modern dance technique. Ravi Shankar was a favorite of Anna Pavlova. (Missing in this presentation were male performers. In the past, the Asia Society presented male dancers in the fiery, story-telling Kathakali form.) Indian dance is the oldest form since it has a religious component and is recorded on clay tablets. The dancers were accompanied by several musicians, vocal, violin, and sitar. The solo dances told the timeless narratives of the human conditions with clarity, grace and artful programming.

Although technically the forms vary, the basic stance is the same: straight spine, knees bent to the side in descending (plié or knee-bending), front facing projection; all part of the art that is physically safe with minimal use of stage space. Even in side movements, the dancer faces front and doesn't turn her back to the audience. Facial expression, use of hands, eyes and some stamping, particularly in Kathak forms can become complicated, and carried to virtuoso heights. (It would not be too difficult for Western students to attempt beginner classes in any of these forms). Panel workshops addressed the stance, rhythmic patterns and story telling with eyes, fingers and facial expressions.

Watching Indian dance can be mesmerizing, and restorative if you let yourself absorb the text of the human condition and marvel at the dancer's talent. While some Asian dance has been presented in the past at the Asia Society, it is "Erasing Borders" that unites us in greater dimension and artistic achievement.

For information about future programs, contact Indo-American Arts Council, Inc,: admin@iaac.us or www.iaac.us.
Mythili Prakash

Mythili Prakash

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan


Mythili Prakash

Mythili Prakash

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan


Mythili Prakash

Mythili Prakash

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan


Mesma S. Belsare

Mesma S. Belsare

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan


Mesma S. Belsare

Mesma S. Belsare

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan


Parul Shah (Parul Shah Dance Company)

Parul Shah (Parul Shah Dance Company)

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan


(L to R) Ammr Vandal, Parul Shah, Reena Shah (Parul Shah Dance Company)

(L to R) Ammr Vandal, Parul Shah, Reena Shah (Parul Shah Dance Company)

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan


Sheetal Gandhi

Sheetal Gandhi

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan


Sheetal Gandhi

Sheetal Gandhi

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan


Mesma S. Belsare, Deepti Navaratna

Mesma S. Belsare, Deepti Navaratna

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan


Mesma S. Belsare (standing) and Deepti Navaratna (sitting)

Mesma S. Belsare (standing) and Deepti Navaratna (sitting)

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan


Levi Philip Marsman, Jarvis McKinley, Tyrone Walker (Ailey II)

Levi Philip Marsman, Jarvis McKinley, Tyrone Walker (Ailey II)

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan


Members of Ailey II

Members of Ailey II

Photo © & courtesy of Michael Toolan

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