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A crash course in world folklore through dance

Watch folk tales from Greece, Japan and Australia being narrated through Odissi, Chhau and contemporary dance forms on World Dance Day

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Apr 27, 2017 16:34 IST
A dance sequence from Crossing Oceans
A dance sequence from Crossing Oceans

Daksha Mashruwala, the acclaimed Odissi dancer — a disciple of the late Padma Vibhushan awardee Kelucharan Mohapatra —was tired of seeing the same Indian folk stories being depicted through dance. “We travel so much around the world, and the cultures are coming closer, but we rarely know the mythologies of these regions,” says the 63-year-old.

Her one-hour production, Crossing Oceans, will be performed by students from Kaishiki (her dance school) and will celebrate dance. Folklores from Greece, Japan and Australia will be depicted through Odissi, contemporary and Chhau respectively. In the past, the show has travelled to cities like Bengaluru and Bhubaneshwar.

The Greek tale narrates the story of the Orion constellation, named after the giant huntsman who falls in love with King Oenipion’s daughter, Merope. “Earlier, men were heavily dependent on stars — to predict when to harvest, have a child, or look for directions. That connection is now lost,” she says.

Read: Meet one of India’s first female Kathakali dancers

When she was looking for someone to play the main protagonist, she thought that popular dancer Revanta Sarabhai, son of Bharatnatyam dancer Mallika Sarabhai, could do justice to the part.

The second piece is titled, The Rainbow Serpent, and is based on a tale from aboriginal Australia. It narrates how the seasons change when the serpent moves, and leads to chaos when he is disturbed. “When the rainbow is seen in the sky, it is said to be the serpent moving from one waterhole to another,” adds Mashruwala.

Dancers during a performance of Crossing Oceans (Photo courtesy: Narendra Dangiya )

The Japanese tale narrates the story of how a childless bamboo cutter finds an infant girl who grows up to be beautiful woman and gets asked by the king of Japan for marriage.

The dance will be followed by a 45-minute music ensemble. The music includes instruments from each country, including the didgeridoo (a wind instrument developed by indigenous tribes of northern Australia), the cello (a bowed or plucked string instrument with four strings used by Greeks) and the shakuhachi (a Japanese flute traditionally made of bamboo).

Daruwala has just one request for the audience: “Come with curiosity and an open mind.”

A performance of Crossing Oceans (Photo courtesy: Narendra Dangiya )

Crossing Oceans will be performed on April 29, 7pm
At Bal Gandharva Rang Mandir, Bandra (W)
Tickets: ₹250 onward