In Buddhist lore, Mara is the demon who once vengefully set out to foil Siddhartha Gautama’s (Buddha) journey to enlightenment under the Bodhi tree with lures of temptation, threats of violence and mockery.
Although the Prakashs’ aim to retain some of the traditional framework of the story, transforming the literal and psychological meaning of the negative aspects of the human psyche into a cross cultural “creative vision” was also an exciting endeavor for the artistic siblings.
Mara and Siddhartha’s allegorical relevance traverses boundaries of culture, age, geography, and time according to the Prakashs’. The message deals with the enduring process of obstruction, borne out of the demons of one’s own mind that all individuals encounter when seeking to progress into wisdom.
Mara is not just a demon who appears under the bodhi tree, rather a “character who lurks throughout Siddhartha’s life, this re-emphasizes his metaphorical representation as the mind that needs to be conquered in the quest for truth and enlightenment,” adds Mythili.
The plot of the performance revolves around the main character Jeeva, and her illusory relationship with Mara or the mind’s trickster demon. The audience will journey with Jeeva from her outer world of characters and relationships to the “dazzling maze” of her inner, self-induced world of thoughts, dreams and attachment created by Mara according to Mythili. Both Jeeva and Mara will be played by Mythili.
The Prakashs’ have fused the rhythmic footwork and gestures characteristic of the classical South Indian dance style, bharatanatyam with the dynamism of Western music and stagecraft.
A cast of 26 dancers from the Shakti Dance company, the performing branch of the Shakti School of Bharatanatyam, trained by Viji Prakash and choreographed by Mythili will be joined by guest dancers from the Kalapeetham Dance Company, trained by Kalyani Shanmugarajah.
The original musical score is composed by the Aditya Prakash Ensemble and consists of roughly thirteen musicians and instruments. Karnatik ragas will be blended with world music, modern jazz and funk by the music team against multimedia presentation and experimental staging to create the ethereal world and the dynamic interplay between dance and music.
Mythili Prakash is an exponent of bharatanatyam and began her training in the Thanjavur tradition of bharatanatyam at the age of four under the tutelage of her mother, Viji Prakash, a virtuoso of this dance form. She has toured worldwide, gaining critical acclaim for her full length solo performances at venues such as Esplanade Theatres (Singapore), The Lowry (United Kingdom), Musee Guimet (Paris), The Music Academy (India), to name a few.
Lead vocalist and composer, Aditya Prakash, has performed and toured extensively with artists such as Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar, Karsh Kale and Salim Merchant. In 2010, Aditya founded the Aditya Prakash Ensemble, a Los Angeles based music group made up jazz and Indian classical instrumentalists.
This event is part of the Ford Theatres 2013 Summer Amphitheatre Season produced by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission in cooperation with Los Angeles County-based arts organizations.
September 21, 8 p.m. Ford Theater, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd., East Hollywood. $20-$50. (323) 461-3673. www.FordTheatres.org.