FREMONT, CA: The dance performances staged by Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose are unique. There is always an element of innovation in them.
On Sunday, March 31, ‘Gandhi’ show was presented by the Abhinaya Dance Company at Ohlone College in Fremont. It featured 11 dancers in various roles: Abhinaya’s Artistic
Director Mythili Kumar in the title role of Gandhi, Susmitha Bhat as little Gandhi, Rasika Kumar, Associate Artistic Director and choreographer in several roles, Malavika Kumar narrating as Gandhi’s grandniece, Manubhen and Anjana Dasu in various roles including Gandhi’s assassin.
Through the voice of his great-niece Manubhen (performed flawlessly by Malavika Kumar), this dance-theater production presented vivid portrayals of Gandhi’s life, his inspirational encounters, and events that led him to becoming a world figure. These powerful scenes, portrayed through the classical dance style of Bharatnatyam, reiterated his message of civil disobedience as an alternative to violent resistance.
Each story narration was followed by enactment by the wonderful and talented Abhinaya dancers. Gandhi’s life story is well known. But the depiction style by Abhinanya dance was spellbinding. It was a wonderful way to introduce Gandhi to the Western audience and our children born and brought up here. The difficult concept of “Ahimsa” and “Satyagraha” were effectively communicated via the media of dance.
In May 1995, to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), Abhinaya Dance Company premiered Gandhi-The Mahatma. In November 2012, Abhinaya presented Gandhi with new choreography by Mythili Kumar (Artistic Director) and Rasika Kumar (Associate Artistic Director) in San Jose. Even though the music was mainly from 1995, some of the fight sequences and Thillana were re-choreographed by Rasika to make them more contemporary and impactful.
Abhinaya Dance company continues to use the ancient art form of Bharatnatyam dance to tell mythological and modern stories in a way that touches both Indian and Western audiences.