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‘Encounter’ of Fear & Freedom

October 09
20:27 2012

Stunning performance by Navarasa Dance Theater

Aparna, Sindhoor & Anil Natyaveda in Draught dance

The stunning, visceral performance ‘Encounter’ by Navarasa Dance Theater swirls with powerful narrative, lushly layered vocal chants, dance, martial arts and explosive movement. Encounter draws on deep rooted traditions, the physicality of the human body, and the abuse of power. Multiple meanings of Encounter which includes an orchestrated “chance meeting” between the police or military and “so-called” enemies of the state are explored with raw power and daring programming.
Based on a short story Draupadi by Magsaysay award winner Mahasweta Devi, Aparna Sindhoor and Anil Natyaveda directed and choreographed the performance. Eighty minutes long without an intermission, the compelling and creative expanse of the story of the indigenous Adivasi farm workers who are captured and interrogated by the military who are determined to usurp the land is accompanied by improvisatory theater, Kalaripayattu and haunting songs and dance in innovative ways. It is a journey into wild emotion, and primal terror as we face the relationship of fear and freedom.
In association with East West Players (Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang) Encounter was staged in Los Angeles from Sept 6-Oct 7. The theme is universal states. Encounter is a dance theatre production that unearths various kinds of encounters, with the Divine, the Self, Love and the military. Encounter explores imageries from the lives of communities from around the world – whether it is Native American history or indigenous peoples’ history globally; or a modern day occurrence in Iraq, Afghanistan or Rwanda”.

Aparna Sindoor and Anil Natyaveda are brilliant, far sighted, young visionary prolific artists taking our imagination into a world far removed from the urban life, with provocative storytelling and artistic statements on oppression and the powerless.
Other members of the cast transform themselves from heroes to villains in lightning transitions as we are thrust into the vortex of brutality and pitched into the classic struggle of tyranny, politics, feudal traditions and a vicious government.
Told mainly from the perspective of Dopdi Mehjen, a farm worker, Aparna Sindoor alternates between commentator and pursued as she presents the stark commentary of a woman’s timeless struggle for peace and freedom. She is a thrilling actor, an uncompromising actor of our time, and driven by a ferocious passion for her art. Her singing shorn of all artifice, staccato vocabulary threading between South Indian languages and English, her deep tenderness using body and emotion, the taut, uncompromising courage of her spirit is searing and riveting.
Anil Natyaveda has trained in dance and aerial dance forms which was evident in the dynamic and powerful body language as he used creative space to demonstrate his amazing agility. There are fully realized scenes where he communicates on a non-verbal level, in a primal manner using his sinewy body with dramatic impact
Music by Isaac Thomas Kottukapally was an enthralling symphony to the action on stage. The minimalist backdrop of shadows, and towering bamboo poles were juxtaposed with mythic arts and contemporary theater. The atmospheric lighting by Jeremy Pivnick was not merely dramatic but used shade, color and intensity to draw us compulsively into the lives of those on stage.
SM Raja, the Writer who adapted the short story along with Aparna Sindoor, his wife has a background of entrepreneurship and computer science in the US and produces educational videos for school children in Tamil Nadu, India. He is a multiple winner of the James Baldwin Award and has produced and directed Malayalam films exploring universal themes of prejudice, globalization and feudal traditions.
Aparna Sindoor holds a doctorate in Dance, Cultural and Women’s Studies from Boston and has trained in yoga, martial arts, contemporary aerial dance, music and theater. Originally from Mysore India, she has performed in prestigious venues -Jacob’s Pillow, Asian American Theater Festival, Amol Palekar’s Theater Festival, India and collaborated with various dance and theater companies including Urban Bush Women and New World Theater.
Anil Natyaveda is a writer, director martial artist from Thiruvanathapuram, India. He has performed all over the world including Edinburgh Dance Festival, Germany International Summer Theater Festival and Hong Kong Art Festival. He has a degree in dance from Sree Swathithirunal Music College, India.
Other members of the multi skilled cast who offer incredible support with footwork, synchronization and body movement include Raghu Narayanan, a classically trained dancer from Kerala India who has a Master’s degree in Dance and has performed in India and the UAE winning many awards for Bharata Natyam, Kuchupudi and folk dance. He has worked with the company for five years in contemporary dance theater.
Leah Vincent completed her MA in Latin American Studies from Ohio University and trains in Kalaripayattyu with Anil. She has been exposed to a variety of dance forms, West African, Sals Rueda and Ecuadorian folk dance.
Sunil Kumar Thakachan is a dancer and martial artist form Kerala, India. He has trained in the company and is proficient in martial arts, aerial dance, Bharata Natyam and theater forms. He teaches Bollywood dance in Trivandrum, has won awards and performs on various TV channels.
Suvarna Raj, from Kerala, India, is a martial artist and dancer and has performed all over India. He has won several dance competitions and teaches Bollywood dance in Kerala. He has been involved with Navarasa Dance Theater for a year.
Audiences the world over will anticipate new, exhilarating projects from this Navarasa Theater in years to come.

PREM KISHORE

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