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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont


What is right? What is madness? More so, what looks right to society may not make sense to the one man who is prepared to move beyond himself through the power of imagination to craft a world of hope, and so it seems to choreographer and director Sheejith Krishna of Chennai’s Sahrdaya Foundation in describing the upcoming revived tale of Don Quixote debuting thissummer.

Don Quixote, a Sahrdaya production, is the first cross-cultural stage adaptation of the seventeenth-century novel by Spain’s legendary Miguel Cervantes within the framework of a South Indian art form.
The United States tour is sponsored by Kalapeetham Foundation and the first showing in Southern California will also honor the Los Angeles based dance school’s 25th anniversary.

The two and a half hour English production though “rooted in the idiom of bharatnatyam and Karnatik music” according to Kalapeetham’s assistant artistic director Tharini Shanmugarajah, also differs according to Krishna, “true freedom lies in the ability to travel beyond without breaking the rules,” and hence classical language can be used in an entirely different way as in the case of Don Quixote’s unification with contemporary elements, theater and mime.

“Audiences must come and watch how we have pulled off this mix of classical tradition and experimentation across cultures,” asserts Krishna.

The new adaptation is scripted and narrated by Akhila Ramnarayan who compressed the extensive and complex story line to approximately fifteen scenes.

The challenge according to Ramnarayan lay in translating a classic, “a sprawling satire from seventeenth century Spain into a performance genre from another culture, for a twenty-first century audience,” while ensuring that the “original edge and the essential humanity,” was not lost.

The story centers on the Spanish knight errant, Don Quixote, played by Krishna who is determined to restore chivalry in his land. Accompanied by his faithful friend Sancho Panza, played by Madhusudhan, the two set out to save the world through a series of adventures and mishaps.

Accompanying artists include Manjari, Anjana Anand, Nidheesh Kumar, K.M. Jayakrishnan, Season Unnikrishnan, Rajamally, Radha Ganesan, Tharini Shanmugarajah, Prithvija Balagopalan and Divya Nayar.

The idea to restructure this tale is partly due to its universal appeal per Krishna and Ramnarayan.  The plot “belongs to all of us, you can learn all you want to know about life and art from it. What greater joy than to tell a story about ordinary people and their desire to dream, in the face of bankruptcy, enslavement and death?”

Past its successful premiere in Chennai in March and the first show in Southern California, the production will continue to the Bay Area, along with eleven additional performance scheduled between August and October 2015.
Kalapeetham was founded in 1990 by Kalyani Shanmugarajah and offers classes in the Kalakshetra style of bharatanatyam, traditional folk dance, and theory through its numerous locations in Los Angeles and Orange County.

The younger Shanmugarajah, Tharini, established the performing wing of Kalapeetham in 2005 with an aim to not only showcase their craft, but to also give back to the community.

Apart from raising funds for Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the International Medical Health Organization, annual benefit performances have raised up to $75,000 since 2005 for select charities says Tharini.
Sponsoring a production of this magnitude, and the collaboration between national organizers and an esteemed organizations such as Sahrdaya, which is focused on the arts of India such as bharatanatyam, Karnatik music, and allied classical and contemporary forms is also a hallmark moment for Kalapeetham states Tharini.

Saturday, August 29, 5:00 p.m. Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach $25-$15.,

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Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...