You stroll deep into a fable, into mysteries and into the woods, in our case into the Bollywoods, to unlock the evocative fantasies from long cherished European fables of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. If the Grimm brothers sought to ridicule and warn humankind of its gullible optimism, Achinta S. McDaniel and the blue13 dance company will take us deeper into a similar fantasy world, a la Bollywood-style exotica, rich with glitter and glamour while dispelling peril and assuring us of hope and happy endings.
Southern California’s blue13 dance company is getting ready to premiere its new production “Into the Bollywoods.”
The night of enchantment will begin with an interactive pre-show, which the audience is encouraged to attend. Bring your own wine and snacks or buy Indian food there, partake in entertainment and games, or win a dance lesson as the lush courtyard of the Ford Amphitheatre, which will be transformed into a Bollywood forest releases exotic creatures of the night, performers, gypsies, and fortune tellers.
The “Jai Ho, Jai Ho” journey begins with Jack of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” now Jai, a poor boy from an impoverished village who is in love with an unattainable beauty next door. As Jai journeys up the beanstalk, the tale draws us into the Bollywoods and into a dance world of intertwined plots from some of our beloved fairy classics. A saucier Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White is adorned with bindis, beads, and bangles as she bhangra dances with princes or flees from wicked witches. Original scores and Bollywood hits like “Dola Re” from Devdas continue to thrill as characters from “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Hansel and Gretel” are encountered by the audience along with Bollywood-style drama, thrills, and of course lip-synched tunes in Jai’s quest to conquer adversity and his love interest.
Jai is played by the striking Arun Mathai who is also the associate artistic director and a principal of the dance troupe. The musical cast also includes McDaniel, Kory Keith, and numerous artists many of who will play multiple roles. The show features original music by Tej Gill who is the composer and musical director of this and numerous other blue13 productions.
McDaniel is the artistic director, choreographer, and dancer at blue13, which came into fruition from her home base of New York in 1999 as a Bollywood dance ensemble. She later moved to Los Angeles and grew her dance troupe from four to 22 highly skilled and talented artists. She has a passionate ambition to “perform live all over the world like Martha Graham or Paul Taylor”; both Graham and Taylor are radical figures in modern dance.
Core to McDaniel’s ambition is her company’s motto to make dance dispel cultural stereotypes, through experimental and nontraditional avenues. Such values are often attributed to McDaniel’s own Indian upbringing that also embraced modern Western ways and eventually Western dance training. Her cast members are at times reminiscent of the United Colors of Benetton ads as Japanese, African American, Salvadorians, Indians, and other ethnicities “organically working together via improv to inspire one another through music and rhythm.”
Bollywood dance, modern dance, and hip hop dance styles “flow together naturally” according to McDaniel who coins her artistic style as Bollywood-Tech. She has taught dance for several years and continues to teach her well known Bollywood Bhangra Beats and other dances at the blue13 school.
In addition to its successful productions in Southern California and New York, blue13 has also performed in Morocco, Paris, France, and Switzerland, and has been featured in film and on TV.
Friday, July 22 and Saturday, July 23, 8:30 p.m. Pre-show 6:30 p.m. John Anson Ford Amphitheater, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood. $25 when purchased before July 15; $30 after July 15. Box office: (323) 461-3673; http://fordtheatres.org. Blue13: (310) 876-2513. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.blue13dance.com.