India’s diverse classical dance forms will be artfully performed by a host of celebrated dancers. In the second performance of the Nachle series, “Nachle II” performers, such as special guest artist Amrapali Ambegaokar, who was recently awarded the International Solo Silver Medal on NBC’s “Superstars Of Dance,” will present performances of six of the eight traditional styles of Indian classical dance.
Ambegaokar has choreographed a number of on-screen dance routines to critical acclaim and is heralded as one of the best Northern Indian classical dancers to grace the stage. Ambegaokar will perform in kathak with students of NEA National Heritage Fellow guru Anjani Ambegaokar. Kathak’s origins trace back to the nomads of ancient Northern India, known as kathaks, or storytellers. Teachers of the discipline often tell their pupils, “Kathana kahe so kathak,” which can be translated to, “that which tells a story, that is kathak.”
Dancers will take the stage to perform a series of pieces in the other classical Indian dance traditions of kuchipudi, odissi, manipuri, and mohiniattam. A traditional bharatanatyam piece will also be performed by the Arpana Dance Company, under the direction of guru Ramya Harishankar. Originating in Tamil Nadu, bharatanatyam is one of the oldest Indian dance styles and continues to remain one of the most widely performed. It is often accompanied by classical music, however, in this interpretation, a traditional bharatnatyam piece featuring soloist Ahila Gulasekaram will be juxtaposed with a modern, multicultural piece in conjunction with Japanese taiko drummers.
Each dance style will be performed by a veritable master of the art form, emphasizing the particular characteristics of each dance—from the intricate movements and theatrical elements of kuchipudi to the graceful and sculpturesque poses of bharatanatyam. In presenting each of these dance styles, Nachle II celebrates the diversity of each dance form and the region from which it originates.
“This production will entertain diverse audiences and also provide an opportunity to experience both the traditional and contemporary dance expressions of the Indian diaspora,” says Harish Murthy, executive director of the Ektaa Center.
In showcasing India’s diverse classical dance traditions, Murthy says the Ektaa Center hopes to continue its promotion of awareness and understanding of India’s rich artistic traditions. The center also contributes to the community’s understanding of India’s diversity and cultural heritage through conducting classes, events, and activities in the Southland community.
Jennifer Marshall has traveled throughout India and publishes articles focusing on Indian and Islamic art and culture. She is a regular contributor to India Currents.