Indian and African Dance Performance

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Choreographers Sheetal Gandhi and Krenly Guzman present a program of new original dance and dance-theater work. Gandhi and Guzman investigate notions of confinement and release through the fusion of traditional and contemporary movement vocabularies.
Gandhi’s Bahu-Beti-Biwi (Daughter-in-law, Daughter, Wife), a solo, draws on stories from the South Asian diaspora and centuries-old women’s songs from North India to reveal the complex tensions around freedom and compromise, desire and longing, duty and love. Guzman’s Reclaiming the Sacred, a contemporary dance work, explores the ways sexuality and gender penetrate and affect the Afro-Caribbean religion Santería.
In Bahu-Beti-Biwi, Gandhi mines the text and subtext of women’s songs to re-imagine the singers’ lives by confronting them with women from Gandhi’s own life. Gandhi’s characters have conversations with each other across time and space. She merges dance, live singing and rhythmic text based on the language of the tabla to transition from one character to the next. A “pop-locking” bird transforms into an endearing auntie who nurtures through (over)feeding. The whining of an Indian-American teenage girl evolves into the slippery melody of a North Indian classical raga.
Gandhi is both a musician and a dancer. Using complex syncopations and theatricality, she has crafted a virtuosic and evocative physical/vocal vocabulary. Her work reflects her love for tradition with her equally urgent desire to break from it. An original score for the work is the product of a flourishing collaboration with composer Joe Trapanese. Her career has spanned genres and disciplines for the last fifteen years. She worked as a creator and performer in Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion, and toured with the international cast from 1999-2001, among many other accomplishments.
Reclaiming the Sacred is Guzman’s tribute to homosexual Santería practitioners and their struggles with sexual repression within the Afro-Caribbean religion. Inspired by his personal experience, Guzman’s performance explores the fluidity of gender as is expressed within the religion’s physical practice. By tapping into a hyper-aware state, the dancers’ movements morph from the thrusting masculine pelvis of the Oricha (deity) Changó into the smooth lyrical pelvis of the female Oricha, Yemayá. Original music composed by Derrick Spiva.


Nov. 21-22, 8 p.m. UCLA’s Glorya Kaufman Dance Theater, 120 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles. $15 general, $8 students. Reservations: (310) 825-2101;www.tickets.ucla.edu. www.sheetalgandhi.com.

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