Dancing for the Court

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Dancers from the Nrityodaya Kathak Academy of Southern California will bring the royal Mughul court to life in their 10th biannual event, “Darbar-e-Aaina: Reflections of the Court.” The event, produced by the company’s director and choreographer, Bhairavi Kumar, will also showcase a variety of stories from the glories of the Ramayana and more technical pieces fusing the three “gharanas,” or styles, of kathak dance: Lucknow, Jaipur, and Banaras.
“We take rigor and alacrity of Jaipur and grace of the Lucknow gharana,” Kumar says.

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Kumar has a distinguished reputation as a performer and choreographer of the kathak art form, having taught in the Los Angeles area for over 20 years. Her productions have received critical acclaim from audiences and institutions, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and her troupe performed at Disneyland in May.

“Reflections of the Court” features talented dancers from her company and guest artist from India, Maulik Shah. The dancers will be accompanied by Mayookh Bhaumik on tabla, Babu Parmeshwaran on vocal, Jagan Ramamoorthy on violin, Paul Livingston on sitar, Carter B. Wallace on dilruba, and Sheela Bringi on flute.

The Sanskrit root word “katha” means story and kathak dance originated in Northern India where nomad “kathaks,” or storytellers, depicted epics and mythological stories such as the Ramayana. This production interprets the Ramayana as it would have been presented at the beginning of the art form’s history when simple movements were performed in temples and village squares to impart cultural heritage as the kathaks traveled from place to place.

During the Moghul period, the kathaks were invited to dance in the courts. Through these performances, kathak dance was transformed into a stylized art as the focus changed from simple dance movements to more complex and rhythmic forms. The Persian influence incorporated intricate footwork into the dance which has remained an integral part of kathak.

“Reflections of the Court” fulfills Kumar’s vision for the dance school, “This academy is a sanctuary of the arts and is dedicated to educate and bring awareness of diversity to the community through dance and performance.”
Saturday, June 19, 6 p.m. Sophia B. Clarke Theatre Performing Art Center, Mount San Antonio College, 1100 N. Grand Ave., Walnut. $25, $30. (909) 630-8558, (909) 630-8557.www.nrityodayaacademy.com.

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