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Los Angeles Premiere
Kathak Dance Drama Performed by
Leela Dance Collective
All-Female Production of India’s Ancient Epic the Ramayana
Leela Dance Collective’s Los Angeles premiere of Son of the Wind brings together the world’s leading Kathak artists to charter new and unprecedented directions in Kathak dance. Featuring a cast of all female Kathak dancers, Son of the Wind is powerful as it turns history on its head by presenting a full cast of women playing roles both male and female. This dance drama shows women in the role of male warriors, challenging modern day perceptions of Kathak dance as well as a history that typically showcased only male dancers. Son of the Wind takes the art form deep within itself and highlights its original expressive form - that of storytelling on Saturday, September 14 at 8:00 p.m. at the Ford Theatres.
Kathak comes from the word "katha" which means story. The kathakas were storytellers that travelled from village to village in ancient India telling the stories of the great Hindu gods and goddesses. While the depiction of Hindu iconography remains visible in modern day kathak, the tradition of telling epic tales through kathak has been left behind by most contemporary practitioners of the art form in favor of more contemporary, abstract, or accessible explorations. Son of the Wind is your classic, tour-de-force kathak dance drama centered around the adventures of Hanuman, the infamous Hindu god who proves to be a central force in the timeless and universal battle between good and evil as told in the Indian epic, the Ramayana. The show provides an opportunity for audience members to experience Kathak in its full expression - as dance, music, theater, poetry, mime - integrated into one. The production is directed by Pandit Chitresh Das' senior disciples, Seibi Lee, Rachna Nivas and Rina Mehta. The show features an original score along with an ensemble featuring some of India's finest musical artists. Son of the Wind takes the art form deep within itself and highlights its original expressive form - that of storytelling.
According to Philip Lutgendorf, South Asian Studies scholar, who attended the world premiere of Son of the Wind (at Sonoma State's Green Music Center, April 2017), "As a Ramayana scholar who also enjoys dance, I was struck both by the production’s sophisticated conception (incorporating several strands of Rama-epic lore, both ‘classical’ and ‘folk’) and by the professionalism of its execution by an all-female cast... Given that traditional lila performances of epic stories in India generally feature exclusively male casting, even in female roles, the gender reversal here was striking, especially given the predominant martial mood (vira rasa) of most of the episodes—though the dancing was so powerful and effective, the costuming and makeup so beguiling, that I forgot about gender during the show.” Lutgendorf continues, “With its technical brilliance, emotional power, and reverent yet creative reinterpretation of sacred epic, ‘Son of the Wind,’ staged by American women of a variety of ethnic backgrounds, was world-class transnational dance theater that celebrated Indian performance traditions even as it innovated within them and challenged cultural stereotypes.”
Says Seibi Lee of her experience directing Son of the Wind: "What I love about Son of the Wind is the opportunity we have to expand the range of Kathak dance as we explore characters historically untouched by classical Indian dance. Classical dancers have long told tales of great hero Ram and his devoted wife Sita or of the great love between Krishna and Radha. But Hanuman, the prince of the vanaras (forest dwellers), has remained largely untouched by dancers. Here we find ourselves as Kathak artists reaching, bending, pushing and pulling as we attempt to bring to life in a multi-dimensional manner the lovable, loyal, brave, compassionate, innocent, warrior that is Hanuman."
Says Rina Mehta, "Audiences want us to be pretty women spinning in pretty costumes. This is accessible. And as Kathak dancers we want to be accessible. We are after all performing an ancient Indian dance form in modern day America. We believe that we can have integrity, remain true to our artistic and cultural heritage, be authentic artists and be accessible. This is the challenge that we have undertaken with Son of the Wind. We have chosen to be warriors, vanaras, demons instead of pretty women in pretty costumes. We have chosen to be artists."
The Leela Dance Collective was founded in 2016 by Rina Mehta, Rachna Nivas and Seibi Lee, senior disciples of legendary kathak master Pandit Chitresh Das, along with leading kathak performers Sarah Morelli and Shefali Jain. It is the only one of its kind Indian-American dance company that brings together leading kathak artists from around the world representing a multitude of voices to articulate a clairvoyant vision for kathak.
The collective is distinguished by an artistic practice that centers around collaboration and collective creativity and a body of work that is at once grounded in tradition and boldly innovative. In its two-year history, the collective has already begun to make an indelible mark on the field of kathak and world dance with its rigorous technique, dynamic choreography, fashion-forward costuming, and sophisticated musical scores.
Presenter / Producer: Leela Dance Collective
Dance > Ethnic Dance
Event Phone: 323-461-3673
2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East
Hollywood CA 90068
LA - Hollywood / Westside
North Hollywood / Burbank / Glendale
Performance Dates: 9/14/2019
$35/$45/$55 Children (12 and under) $25/$35/$45 Students $25/$35/$45, must be purchased in person at the box office with valid student ID one ticket per student at that rate
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