IRVINE, CA - By having musicians and dancers from a variety of backgrounds and communities work together it gave others an opportunity to witness and understand how people from different cultures and traditions can team up while still preserving their own individualities. Dance Conversations: Dancing Communities, Dancing Cities,
The hope was to evoke questions of a resident’s relationship to the city they live in, how it affects them as a dancer/musician, as well as how the artist remakes the city they reside in.
Taking place in the Civic Center Plaza in Irvine, Dance Conversations: Dancing Communities, Dancing Cities contained three parts all of which were held in various locations. First of three was, “Walking in Orange,” which was in the Bill Barber Park Formal Garden.
Dancers and musicians in this piece asked what it means to walk, sing, play, and dance in Irvine in protest to the restrictions which immobilize us because Irvine is mainly a car city. “Walking in Orange” was a repetitive piece in which the same concept occurred multiple times in different spaces.cContinuing on came, “Bharata Natyam Reimagined” which took place in the Irvine City Hall Piazza. This part of the evening consisted of three performances. Bharata natyam conventionally speaks to the audience in four techniques: communication using different parts of the body, using text to sing, rhythmical chanting, and costume/staging.
This series of three dances within the three part piece was meant to initiate a new and different idea, what if the dancers did not wear the typical costumes and the sounds changed. What if living in a different city created a “reimagined” more relatable form of Bharata natyam. The girls in all of these three dances did not wear the typical outfits or jewelry. They were mainly in more everyday kind of clothing and jewelry. Nothing appeared to be too extravagant or out of the ordinary. However, the girls still maintained their perfect postures and beautiful expressions.cAfter an almost hour break came the final portion of the three part series of Dance Conversations: Dancing Communities, Dancing Cities, Sweating Saris, which was held in the Irvine City Hall Council Chambers.
Bringing to life Priya Srinivasan’s book, Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labor, Ramya Harishankar and Srinivasan worked together in an interactive multimedia duet to discover how performance as research can be brought to life.
The book as well as the performance depicted Srinivasan’s relationship with Harishankar, her students, and teaching processes. Additionally, it “questions dance not just as an aesthetic form but its relationship to socio-political, historical, cultural, racialized, and gendered forms of power,” according to the description in the brochure. ‘Sweating Saris’ demonstrated all of the hard work that is put into a final and perfected piece of a Bharata natyam performance. Srinivasan breaks the fourth wall and has the audience participate to make them understand the intricacies of such dances.cThe evening came to a close when Sweating Saris, the last of three pieces, was performed and completed. Convened by Ramya Harishankar of Arpana Dance Company and Dr. Priya Srinivasan of the University of Melourne-Australia, this event was presented by the Ektaa Center and the Arpana Dance Company.