Nrityagram Dance Ensemble + Chitrasena Dance Company 'Sa?hara'
The acclaimed Nrityagram Dance Ensemble of southern India is one of the world’s great dance companies. Living communally in a women’s village devoted to dance — the better to meld art with everyday life — the artists of Nrityagram elegantly recount the stories of the Hindu epics through the sinuously curving classical movements of Odissi dance. Nrityagram, the first company to earn consecutive “Best Dance of the Year” honors from The New York Times, joins revered Sri Lankan dance ensemble Chitrasena Dance Company, which has led the way in opening the nation’s dynamic, folk-inflected Kandyan dance tradition to women, preserving and revitalizing it by bringing it from the village to the modern stage. Performed by five dancers, their collaboration, Samhara, offers a fascinating dialogue between the spectacular dance traditions and distinctive movement vocabularies of India and Sri Lanka. Nrityagram’s Odissi dance, accompanied by an ensemble of five musicians playing ragas, is fluid and precise, punctuated by percussive foot stomping; Chitrasena’s Kandyan form is more muscular, vertical, and athletic, and accompanied solely by two percussionists. Both have roots in ancient religious ritual. Together, they create what The New York Times called “an interplay of styles that is exciting and illuminating.”