Indian Classical Music Circle of Austin
Mallika Sarabhai - India's Queen of Classical Dance - lays claim to being India's premier exponent of classical dance forms, particularly Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. Honored by the President of France with the Legion of Arts & Letters in 2005, she is a world-renowned choreographer, playwright, composer and teacher, as well as an activist for civil rights causes.
In "Hot Talas and Cool Rasas," the Darpana Performing Company, led by Ms. Sarabhai, will present a performance that is a bouquet of classical dance styles native to India, including Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Kalari Payattu, and use the medium of classical dance to explore both classical and contemporary themes. The pieces are varied, from the moving to the laugh-out-loud funny, with music from L. Subramanian to the Indian Ocean.
This performance will both move you and exhilarate you, and is a rare opportunity to see a master of her craft in action.
This presentation is supported by the Mid-America Arts Alliance with generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. This project is also funded in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts.
The 2005 ICMCA Committee
RAMDAS SUNDER (PRESIDENT)
ROHIT DHAMANKAR (TREASURER)
UMA VEERAMANI (SECRETARY)
ICMCA - Don’t Miss a Beat.
From a small dance academy that was founded over five decades ago, today Darpana is a workshop for the arts where tradition meets technology to break down boundaries of art and life and where performers from the world over work together to open mindscapes through the arts. Established by Mrinalini and Vikram Sarabhai in 1949, for the last two decades the academy has been directed by their daughter Mallika Sarabhai. Today it has a permanent staff of over 60 people and several hundred others on projects. Its departments range from performance and teaching of the arts to their use as development communication through face to face impacting and software production. Its audiences range from arts lovers to district and supreme court judges, the less privileged across the world, children, women, tribal populations and more. With over 25000 graduates, nearly 10000 performances, audiences in 90 countries and a vibrant arts environment, Darpana today is a centre for artists committed to excellence, innovation and the excitement of using the arts for change. Darpana’s vision is a contemporary symbiosis affirming the role of creativity in culture, researching into our origins and reaching out to the unsaid or unthought of, with a language that is universal.
Mallika Sarabhai is a performer and creator of many talents. Her career has developed from being a young, internationally acclaimed, classical dancer and film personality, to being an activist and commentator on social issues.
Now an established artist she celebrates positive reaffirmation of images of womanhood through dance, theatre and writing. Following the rich and inspiring model of her mother Mrinalini, Mallika has placed herself firmly at the cutting edge of Indian dance and dance theatre.
In a culture which favors conservatism, she wields the vocabularies of Indian traditions as trenchant tools to sculpt new reactions in her audiences. As dancer, actress, choreographer, writer, or instigator of community projects she challenges audiences to sit up and think, realign themselves to questions of ecology, women’s place in society, gender awareness, cultural atrophy, the very place of the arts in our society.
Deeply rooted in Indian cultures, but open to the influences of her collaborations around the world she has synthesized her experiences to become one of the most exciting creative influences in India today. Dynamic, charming and dry-witted, she is a rare creature in the arts.
Mallika is co-director of Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in Ahmedabad, a unique centre for the arts which has performed all over India and all around the world. Here she directs the Darpana Performance Group; the Janavak Folk and Tribal Dance Company; Darpana for Development; Darpana Communications; and the Darpana Conservatoire.
At the root of Mallika’s performance is her expertise and deep knowledge of two forms of Indian classical dance, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh respectively. As a young woman she won international awards for her classical dance, and she is still learning items from her gurus, some of which she alone in the world can perform. Even in these forms, she has rejected items which she feels stem from overtly patriarchal periods and which represent women as subservient, and has put together pieces celebrating the strength of the goddesses of the Hindu pantheon.
This is still the main element of her performance life, whether at international festivals or local cultural events, and the warmth and life with which she imbues these forms keeps her much in demand.
In Indian dance there is no great tradition of creative choreography. It was Mrinalini Sarabhai who first used the Bharatanatyam vocabulary to speak of moods and themes other than the traditional devotional ones. She talked of bride burning and of pollution in her dance dramas. Mallika performed in these and absorbed the ideas but it is only in the last decade that she has started to choreograph herself, her company and even her mother. As she started to crystallize what it was she wanted to express through her work she drew on many elements to create her choreographic vocabulary. Of course the elements of her classical dance were there, but so were the rhythms and steps from the work of her folk dance company. She studied martial art forms from South India and from North East India, she observed and stylized everyday movements and gestures until she could create pieces which react to communal violence in India (“Mean Streets on Earth”), which celebrate rituals behind her dance (Thattukazhi), or the rites of passage of a woman (Ceremony I”). In these, and many more, she is still experimenting with other musics, with video accompaniment, with multi-arts forms. In a very real sense these interdisciplinary works are deeply in the tradition of Indian performance, and now these works too are being invited around the world.
Just as her choreography looks at issues of social importance, Mallika's theatre work has evolved into a new and vital form challenging people's preconceptions. Using her natural charm and with, a strong voice and her ability for story- telling and for directly addressing her audience with conviction, as well as her movement and dance skills, serious subjects have been tackled in a burst of refreshing work.
During her performance as Draupadi in Peter Brook's Mahabharata, she became aware of the need to make strong and positive statements about images of Indian womanhood, to counter the often misleading accounts by male commentators. This led to her creating "Shakti - The Power of Women " in London which subsequently toured Britain, Holland and India.
Its reappraisal of mythological, historical and contemporary female figures had stunning effect on audiences and quickly led to a second piece, "Sita's Daughters", which is an even harder hitting ( although often very funny) piece about women who refuse to accept an oppressive system. This piece was performed all over India from slums to metropolitan festivals and has been invited to Singapore, USA and Britain.
Using similar skills she teamed up with Nigerian performer Peter Badejo to throw light onto matters of cultural manipulation in the highly successful “Itan Kahani- The story of stories”. This was followed by a very ambitious project, a new piece blowing some fresh air through the subject of why we commit violence “V for…”. In April ’99 came “In Search of the Goddess” commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC.
In recent years Mallika has managed to apply her artistic talents to her desire for social change in a series of unique projects. Working with terms of her most experienced Darpana performers, and training dozens of her rural and traditional artists, she has instituted programs of using the performing arts to examine gender awareness, issues of violence and environmental issues in schools, AIDS awareness in slum areas and witch killing in rural areas. These interactive projects bring artists together with sociologists, scientists and local people to make challenging programs often leading to community performance.
Biographies of Key Artistes
Mallika Sarabhai (M.BA,
Director, Darpana Academy
Mallika Sarabhai is a performer and creator of many talents. Her career has developed from being a young, internationally acclaimed, classical dancer and film personality, to being an activist and commentator on social issues. As an artist she celebrates positives reaffirmation of images of womanhood through dance, theater and writing. As dancer, actress, choreographer, writer, and instigator of community projects she challenges audiences to sit up and think, to realign themselves to questions of ecology, the role of women, gender awareness, cultural atrophy and the very place of the arts in our society.
Revanta Sarabhai has been involved with all aspects of theatre and dance since an early age. He is a graduate in the classical Indian dance style of Bharatanatyam and has trained in various other Indian classical, folk and contemporary forms. He has toured Australia, China, Europe, the UK and the US performing with Darpana. In recent years, Revanta has also started experimenting with choreography, and has designed the lighting for a
considerable number of Darpana’s dance and theatre productions over the last six years. Revanta is currently undertaking a BFA in Multimedia at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, developing skills to integrate aspects of media, technology and the performing arts.
Akshay Patel joined Darpana in 1989 and learnt folk dancing. He later also learnt Bharatnatyam. Today he is one of the group's lead dancers in classical, contemporary and folk styles and has toured the world with the group since 1994.
Minakshi Baria joined Darpana as a student of Bharatanatyam in 2000. She also studied folk dancing with Janavak. She has been touring with Darpana since earlier this year.
Arundathi Singhia started her training in Manipuri and Bharatanatyam at the age of 7 in Guwahati and continued for 5 years. She then joined Kalakshetra (in Chennai) and completed her diploma and post diploma there. She has received scholarships for advanced training in Bharatanatyam from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and has performed extensively with the Kalakshetra dance group, including in a year-long performance series during the Centenary Celebration of Rukmini Devi Arundale. She has been performing with Darpana since 2004.
Manojkumar Bagga joined Darpana in 1992. He has completed his graduation in Bharatanatyam. He is also a folk and contemporary dancer and has performed all over India and the world with the Darpana Performing Group.
D. Padmakumar is a trained martial artist in the Kalaripayattu form of Kerala, a Bharata Natyam dancer and a contemporary choreographer. He has trained many dancers in the use of martial arts for dance and has choreographed many pieces. He has performed and taught all over India and the world with Darpana.
Sonal Solanki joined Darpana as a student of Bharatanatyam in 1985. She graduated in 1992 and started apprenticing with the professional company. She also studied folk dancing with Janavak and started performing. She has been part of the Darpana Performing Group since 1998. As a member of this core group she is trained in Kalaripayattu, contemporary dance and dance theater. She played the lead in Darpana's musical threatre production. “Ashwamedha,” and started choreographing with her first short solo "Bonsai.” She has acted in a variety of TV serials with D.Com and has taught dance workshops in several countries. She continues touring extensively with Darpana.
Yadavan Chandran has been Co-ordinator of Darpana's visual communications department since 2001. Under him the department has produced over 1000 hours of development oriented broadcast programming on issues of gender, empowerment, health, hygiene, communal and religious violence and human rights. He also designs lights and videoscapes for performances and is a graphic designer.
The 2005 ICMCA Committee sincerely thanks the following individuals and organizations for their contributions to this program
for designing the print publicity
“Pieces of Peace” (KOOP-91.7 FM),
Austin Chronicle & Austin American-Statesman
for publicizing the event
for hosting the artistes
Alison Larkin & Nina Payan
for helping with the Press Release and Brochure
Phil Judah & upstages.com
for providing marketing promotions
for helping with this event
for 15 years (and counting!) of commitment and support
The Mid-West Arts Alliance
The National Endowment for the Arts
City of Austin Cultural Arts Division
Texas Commission on the Arts
(and numerous private citizens)
for their support of the Arts
Dedicated to Indian Music
Indian Classical Music Circle of Austin (ICMCA)
PO Box 203454
Austin TX 78720-3454
Website : www.icmca.org
Ganesh & Kumaresh
Mannargudi Easwaran (Mridangam)
S V Ramani (Ghatam)
Sunday, November 6, 2005 at 5 PM
Texas Union Auditorium
(24th and Guadalupe)
Regular : $20
Students/Seniors : $10
Tickets available online at www.texasboxoffice.com