Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bharatanatyam Meets Madison

When I read an announcement that Bharatanatyam Dancers were going to be performing at Olbrich Gardens in Madison, I jumped at the opportunity to see this oldest of classical Indian dances, right in my neighborhood. Although it was not hot and sticky like it often was when I attended the performances in Chennai, the unusual spring-like February temperatures were just fine for me.

I arrived around the same time as some of the younger dancers. Unzipped winter jackets revealed the colorful costumes. A mother quickly "painted on" the finger designs with a colored Sharpie in place of customary henna. Artificial jasmine had to suffice instead of the customary fragrant floral strands adorning the plaited hair.

An instructor of the local Bharatanatyam Dance school introduced the girls (ages 5-16) and gave the audience a brief intro to what they were about to see. She explained how the eyes and hands were a highly integral part of conveying emotions in the expressive dances. Some of the younger students
The sophistication of footwork, hand gestures, and eye/neck movements increased with the age levels. Poses hearkened to the gods celebrated at Hindu temples, such as Krishna and Shiva. An enjoyable Saturday morning in Madison!

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