Nava Dance Theatre
DANCE ORIGIN: Tamil Nadu
TITLE: Lament to the Clouds
Lament to the Clouds is inspired by
the 4th century Sanskrit love epic Meghaduta—Cloud Messenger. The story tells
of a demigod who is separated from his beloved. He asks a young rain cloud to
send his love a message of hope.
Then the beautiful cloud—an ensemble
of female dancers—responds in joyful dance, comforting the lover in his sorrow.
Bharatanatyam is a South Indian classical dance from Tamil Nadu, rooted in
Hindu spirituality as interpreted from the ancient Natya Shastra on performance
arts. Temple devadasis expressed their deep devotion through this dance. The
dance form suffered greatly in the 18th-20th centuries, a result of British
colonialism, and it was restructured and codified during Independence. Today,
its form, dignity, and sanctity are passed down through artistic lineages.
Bharatanatyam dancers blend nritta
footwork; expressive nritya dance; and theatrical natya presentations to tell
ancient mythological stories. The costumes include salangai bells that are
blessed before performance, ornaments of unpolished temple stones, alta
coloring to enhance hand gestures and footwork, fans accentuating postures, and
make-up to enhance facial expressions. In this performance, Nava dancers wear
simplified colors and jewelry.
The Carnatic music for this piece is
performed on mridangam, violin, and bamboo bansari flute. The melody is
improvised in raga charukesi. Four of the dancers in this company were trained
by Katherine Kunhiraman, who was honored with the 2014 Festival lifetime achievement award.