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A perfect performance

The tours de force of the show were the vivacious solo performance by Mythili Prakash, writes Shalini Narang.

india Updated: Nov 24, 2005 17:59 IST

For the Bharat natyam aficionados, the evening of November 19th at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose was an unforgettable visual treat. Ace artistic directors, Mythili Kumar of the Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose and Vijji Prakash of the Shakti Dance Company of Los Angeles with their 16 best dancers had come together to present the first of the two shows of the fall collaboration concert celebrating the Silver Jubilee of the dance form in California. The impact produced by the pure, unadulterated classical performances on creatively choreographed routines was mesmerising and magical.

The spellbinding two-hour show titled Saakhyam implying friendship showcased the best in both the natya and the nritya elements in individual and group presentations. The performances were based on snippets of stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Krishna Lela and other tales depicting the myriad positive and negative facets of friendship including trust, love, sacrifice, hate, betrayal etc.

The concert commenced with pushpanjali and a dance drama piece on Lord Rama in his varied roles as a friend, a brother, a husband and a universal benefactor by the dancers of Shakti Dance Company. A contemporary performance displaying a quest for a friend by the dancers of the Abhinaya School followed the classical opening sequence.

The well-synchronised group dances were proceeded by joint presentations by Kumar and Prakash on the legendary tales of friendship between Drona and Drupda and Krishna and Sudama. The veteran dancers executed the timeless tales of friendship beginning with childhood innocence, progressing through youthful scorn, revenge and myriad other emotions via their deft dance movements and perfected facial expressions.

The other classical tales of the myriad moods of companionship showcased via individual and group performances included the tales of Karna and Duryodhana and Arjuna and Krishna.

Though all the performances beautifully displayed the varied themes of friendship, yet the tours de force of the show were the vivacious solo performance by Mythili Prakash, an accomplished dancer of the Shakti Dance Company and the spellbinding finale highlighting group symmetry and synchronicity by all the dancers of both the groups.

"We decided to call this concert Saakhyam, because we are thrilled to be joined by our Southern California friends and neighbors in a concert that will showcase so many ideas and talents. Additionally, this concert is a gratitude to our friends who have supported us for 25 years in the Bay Area." said Mythili Kumar, artistic director and founder of Abhinaya."

She founded the Dance Company in San Jose in 1980 to present innovative and professional-quality bharatnatyam performances in the Bay Area and through the years, the institute has emerged as the touchstone for the dance form in the Bay Area. It is partly supported by grants from the City of San Jose, Arts Council Silicon Valley, California Arts Council, Community Foundation Silicon Valley, Applied Materials Excellence in the Arts; a grant of the ACSV, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

"These concerts reflect years of experience, love and joy of dance," said Vijji Prakash, artistic director and founder of Shakti Dance Company of Los Angeles that she founded in 1977. She is also an associate professor of dance at University of Los Angles (UCLA), has won two Brody Choreographers Fellowships and two awards for Excellence in the Arts awards from the Torrance Cultural Arts Commission. Prakash's 2002 work Bhagavad Gita has been presented at various venues in United States and Canada for the past three years to critical acclaim.

The collaboration depicted camaraderie between the dancers at its professional best. I hope more similar mutual admiration between competitors comes out in the open and collaborative concerts become the order of the day rather than being few and far between. Audience and the artists gain via such and similar coactions.