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Robert Abrams
Performance Reviews
Merce Cunningham Dance Company & Studios

Trinayan Collective's Festival of Odissi Dance

by Robert Abrams
April 11, 2003
Merce Cunningham Dance Company & Studios
55 Bethune Street
New York, NY 10014

Trinayan Collective's Festival of Odissi Dance


By Robert Abrams
April 11, 2003

The Trinayan Collective presented the first night of a festival of Odissi dance, a traditional form of dance from India. The performance featured two teachers and five students. The dancers all performed with confidence or better. Their performances were well integrated, such that there were no disconnects between teacher and student. Bani Ray, who is a teacher, was clearly more skilled than the other dancers, but she danced in such a way that she fit into the ensemble without standing out. Or perhaps she has helped raise the other dancers up towards her level. I would imagine that a dance group that calls itself a collective would want to present quality performance dance in a way that blurs the teacher student boundary. The Trinayan Collective has certainly succeeded in this.

I can't speak to the quality of the dancing from an Indian dance perspective, but I can do so from other frames of reference. I thought the dancers showed great technique, as exemplified by the stillness of their pauses, the precision with which they landed 360 degree spins, and the engaging emotion they showed on their faces. Most of the pieces presented were essentially plotless, but there was enough of an anchor to human experience to keep the pure dance from going adrift. This is, in any case, a type of modern dance choreography I happen to like, and I thought they implemented it very well. Not that what was presented was actually modern dance, but the works had similar stances towards narrative and a similar emphasis on pauses.

The program presented group works, solos, duets, and The Story of Sati, a spoken word dance presented by Rajika Puri. All of the works were of consistently high quality. I look forward to their next performance.

The dancers were Bani Ray, Rajika Puri, Sharmila Acharya, Kakoli Mukherjee, Alicia Pascal, Taiis Pascal and Nandini Sikand.

The festival was presented April 11 and April 12 at the Merce Cunningham Studio at 55 Bethune Street, 11th Floor in NYC.

Photos by Robert Abrams

Mahakali Dhyanam Mangala Charan
Dancers: Bani Ray with Kakoli Mukherjee, Alicia Pascal and Nandini Sikand
Original composition: Guru Durga Charan Ranbir
Restaged by: Bani Ray
Music: Guru Ram Hari Das

Mohane deli chai…
Krishna came to me today…
Dancer: Bani Ray
Original composition: Guru Durga Charan Ranbir
Music: Guru Ram Hari Das

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