World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival



Dance Origin: South India
Folk dances from Tamil Nadu
Artistic Directors:
Priya Krishnamoorthy, Janani Narayanan, Roopa Parameswaran
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2009

Sanhiti was founded in 2004 by Janani Narayan, Priya Krishnamoorthy, and Roopa Parameswaran. Sanhiti performs annual fundraisers to benefit Bay Area non-profit organizations. Their mission is to promote the rich and diverse South Indian dance culture, to bring together dance enthusiasts and to provide an opportunity to perform. Artistic Director Roopa Parameswaran studied bharatanatyam and folk dance forms in India for 15 years. She and Priya Krishnamoorthy continue to study with the Vishwa Shanthi Dance Academy. Janani Narayana trains in bharatanatyam with Lasya Dance Company. Company dancers have studied with instructors in South India and the Bay Area.


Title: Kummi Adi

Roopa Parameswaran
Siva Kollipara, Subashinee Krishnamurthy
Rajalakshmi Avadaiappan, Koushik Balasubramanian, Venkatesh Balasubramanian, Suman Chandra, Suraj Chandrasekaran, Seshank Kalvala, Vijay Kolappan, Priya Krishnamoorthy, Pavan Kumar, Raji Mahalingam, Kavitha Nagarajan, Balaji Natarajan, Naveen Nathan, Roopa Parameswaran, Ram Periathiruvadi, Sowmya Rajaraman, Priya Rasetty, Sridhar Sailappan, Priya Saranathan, Suresh Seshamani, Ram Subramaniyan, Swapna Vaidyanathan, Srinivasan Venkatachary, Poornima Venkatakrishnan, Chitra Venkatramani, Janani Viswanathan

Kummi Adi
is a suite of traditional folk dance forms from Tamil Nadu, in the southernmost Indian peninsula. For over 2500 years, the region has been the homeland of the Tamils—an ancient culture as sophisticated and varied as other classical civilizations of the world. At a village carnival, the loud tones of the auspicious nadaswaram (wind instrument) weave with the festive song—Kummi Adi Hoi, Let's clap our hands together, with beautiful bangles clanging one another, with bees buzzing along to the flowers in our head. Let's pray to The Almighty to ward off the evil eye and be happy on this wonderful day.

Sanhiti presents: (1) Karagam, "dancing with a pot on the head." Traditionally, dancers carried mud water pots, to praise the Hindu rain goddess Mari Amman and river goddess Gangai Amman. (2) Kavadi, "dancing with a decorated arch around one's shoulders." As an offering to Lord Muruga—Hindu saint and patron of Tamil Nadu—dancers dress in sacred saffron. The dance dates back to ancient Tamil pilgrimages, when travelers tied sacred offerings to sticks balanced on their shoulders and sang and danced to enliven the journey. (3) Kummi, "dancing and clapping to rhythmic beats." (4) Poi Kaal Kudirai, the "dummy horse dance" connected to the worship of Ayyanar – an ancient clan-based deity of nature and fertility. Enormous statues of Ayyanar guard rural villages—a strong, well-fed deity riding a horse. (5) Kolattam, is the "dance with sticks." Women dressed in colorful pavadi thavani costumes play rhythm sticks. In Tamil tradition, dancers performed this dance for ten days, beginning on Amavasi, the new moon night on the Hindu calendar. (6) Silambam is based on an ancient martial arts form, originated in the Tamil Nadu's Kurinji Hills some 5,000 years ago, when natives fought off wild animals with bamboo staves.

Choreographer Roopa Parameswaran learned Tamil Nadu dances in South India, created this piece in 2007, and first staged it at the McAfee Center in Saratoga. The song “Kummi Adi” is by contemporary Tamil poet Vaali and composer A.R. Rahman, who recently won Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for the film Slumdog Millionaire. 

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