With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Friday, September 19, 2014

MAYURA: BLUE PEACOCK - review of an Indian dance performance

Mayura: Blue Peacock
When: Friday, September19 and Saturday September 20, 2014
Where: Chen Dance Center
70 Mulberry Street, Chinatown, NYC

Last night I attended the opening performance of Mayura: Blue Peacock, an evening-length, Indian classical dance production with original music and choreography. Mayura is the Sanskrit word for peacock, which is the national bird of India and which serves as the inspiration for this dance production. The program, which runs for just over an hour with no intermissions, will be repeated tonight and tomorrow night at the Chen Dance Center in NY's Chinatown and consists of four segments.

Sonali Skandan and Jiva Dance performed the dances. The company consists of Sonali, who also serves as artistic director and chief choreographer, and five other female dancers: Bavani Pillai, Mallika Bhargava, Maya Kappil, Njideka Emenogu, and Sangita Sahasranaman. Sonali choreographed three of the dance segments: Mayil Viruttham, Kalidassa Mala (garland of Kalidass), and Thillana, the final segment. Bragha Bessell was the choreographer of Andal/Mira, the third segment.

Rajkumar Bharathi composed the music, and there were rhythmic sections by G. Vijayaraghavan and Bala Skandan. These sounds were supplemented by the rhythmic pounding of feet slapping and stomping on the dance floor and by the tinkling of the numerous bells around the dancers' ankles. Movements ranged from incredibly rapid to slow and sinuous; the arms and fingers especially tended to move in delicate undulations. At times the dancers assumed still poses, often balancing on one leg.

Years ago I used to do some dance photography and attended performances much more often than I have in recent years. I am by no means a dance critic, and I have, unfortunately, only minimal familiarity with Indian dance. But I thoroughly enjoyed the movements and the sounds of Mayura: Blue Peacock, and highly recommend attending one of the two remaining performances.

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