The Shree School of Dance presents, “and she said …” a dance-theater production exploring the writings of Tamil women poets on themes of love and conflict. The event is produced by the dance company’s renowned artistic director, Lakshmi Sriraman, a distinguished performer, teacher and choreographer of bharatanatyam, in conjunction with accomplished performer and choreographer Aniruddhan Vasudevan.
Performers encourage the audience to engage in themes of love and conflict reflected in Tamil poetry from the Bhakti and contemporary periods through classical bharatnatyam and contemporary Tamil theater. Emotive issues are explored in the divine and spiritual sense and through the day-to-day workings of relationships.
Sriraman explains the unique perspective offered through the eyes of the Tamil poets, “Many women poets look at these emotions at a very microscopic level. They pay attention to the minutest of details that prevail in everyday life and are the causes and effects of love and conflict.”
The production is performed in four acts, each presenting a separate and distinct movement style to complement each poetic work. “The choice of mode of expression was driven and guided by the nature of the poem we were working with,” says Sriraman. As a result of this approach, a cross-section of musical and dance styles are represented. In one performance, the work of ninth century poet Saint Aandal is presented in a classical music and dance format. “We have tried to seamlessly weave aspects of bharatanatyam in our treatment of Aandal’s and Karaikkal Ammaiyar’s poems,” says Sriraman.
In contrast, Sriraman takes a different approach in pairing the contemporary Tamil poetry of Salma and Suhirtarani with Tamil theater movement. “The current-ness of the contemporary poetry of Salma and Sukhirtha Rani demanded a form that was stark, allowed for saying the lines of the poetry aloud and to improvise on the movement,” she says.
The interplay between historical and contemporary, the spoken word and movement in “and she said …” provides a rich, cultural space in which to contemplate the issues of love and conflict arising from the poetry of Tamil women. The production is a sensitive rendering of profound and relevant issues that have survived historical literature to provide a compelling context for the interpretation of modern-day Tamil poetry.
Friday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m. Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. $20 general; $10 students and children under 12. (650) 762-5396, (510) 219-4193, (510) 435-8848. www.shreedance.com.