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Vishwa Shanthi Performing Arts under the direction of Artistic Director Shreelata Suresh is getting ready  to present Vyakrita, a thematic dance production on March 2nd, 2019. South India Fine Arts (SIFA) is co-sponsoring this production along with Vishwa Shanthi. SIFA is celebrating its 40th year anniversary this year.

Shreelata Suresh, Artistic Director of Vishwa Shanthi says, “Our dance company has always tried to present dance productions around the theme of self realization or universal peace. This time, we are going to explore Buddhism through the tales of the Jatakas. Because of his arduous path to self-realization, Buddha was able to look into his many past lives, to point the way for human beings to live a pain-free existence. This is how the jatakas came about. These tales were originally written in Pali. When Buddha taught his followers, he used the experiences drawn from his past lives and narrated jataka tales to make a point.”

The production gives an opportunity for young upcoming dancers from Vishwa Shanthi to work on challenging narratives using their abhinaya skills. All the young dancers have completed their solo debut performances. A total of thirteen dancers, which includes five experienced teachers – Roopa Suresh, Sumati Vikram, Lavanya Panguluri, Nisha Balaraman, and Shreelata Suresh take part in this production. 

Shadow puppetry by Ki. Midyanto from UC Berkeley will be used. Also, both Indian classical musical styles – Hindustani and Carnatic are used in this production. “Working alongside Nachiketa, a brilliant Hindustani musician was very special. Composing the score for a theme where new lyrics had to be written, while keeping the integrity of Carnatic and Hindustani styles, while bringing out the essence of the jataka tales was very interesting. It was a wonderful experience to work with Shreelata and a wonderful group of musicians.”

“The collaboration with Asha Ramesh, Nachiketa Yakkundi and Ki Midiyanto, representing the many cultures in the Bay Area also inspired this creation,” says Shreelata Suresh. To bring out the morals embedded in the jataka tales, five stories have been used in the production. A thillana with lyrics written by Renuka Balasubramanian helps bring the theme together in the end. Other lyrics were contributed by Sandhya Kalyanasundaram, Nachiketa Yakkundi, and Asha Ramesh. Musicians included Nachiketa Yakkundi, Asha Ramesh, Narayanan Natarajan, Shanthi Narayanan, Ashwin Krishnakumar, Ravi Gutala, Vivek Datar, and.Rohith Jayaraman, Concept research and choreography is by Shreelata Suresh and Sumati Vikram. while costuming and choreographic assistance was provided by Roopa Suresh. 

Completed arangetrams – Vani

Nirupama V.

Nirupama Vaidhyanathan is a writer, dancer and choreographer. She was the former editor of India Currents magazine.