FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH
April 29, 2017
Conceived and directed by Tina Croll & Jamie Cunningham, curated by Rajika Puri,
the 14th Street Y presented From the Horse’s Mouth, dedicated to the dancer and musician Balasaraswati. Over 19 years, Croll and Cunningham have stayed true to their instinct to un-mute dancers’ voices, to hear their stories (limited to two minutes) to see them their danced respond to a list of choreographic suggestions involving space and/or style, read by the performers on stage, but withheld from the audience.
This fascinating celebration of Indian dance in America goads you to learn more, to see again the rare film footage, videos and multimedia, and understand the references to Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Jack Cole, Balasaraswati, Ragini Devi, and Indrani. The parade of personalities, their costumes, and styles, makes you smile the entire production, giving one multiple options as to whom or what to watch at any one time.The curator Rajika Puri stood out as the most polished performer, because she is an actor, as well as a dancer with a distinctive sense of timing, dramatic punch, and humor.
From the Horse’s Mouth is assembled with only a few rehearsals, which in this presentation, seemed too few for such enormous, talented cast. The logic behind the order and mix of multiple dancers and media was unclear. The frontal presentation of most Indian dance was discarded in the exploration of space assigned to the cast by the directors, so that the dances lacked their usual power.
The overlapping of artists and anecdotes is a reliable concept, especially in its initial form which involved modern dancers who shared a common history. Taking on Indian Dance in all its breadth from Bharatanatyam to Bollywood in this format is equivalent to creating a live trailer of a fantastic production perhaps to come.
Twenty-five gifted dancers, musicians, historians and choreographers of Indian dance, besides Puri participated: Prerona Bhuyan, Madhusmita Bora, Kamala Cesar, Uttara Coorlawala, Joe Daly, Parijat Desai, Angelina Haque, Jonathan Hollander, Mohip Joarder, Jeeno Joseph, Baishali Kanjilal, Aniruddha Knight, Hari Krishnan, Julia Kulakova, Aishwarya Madhav, Roopa Mahadevan, Minal Mehta, Sruthi Mohan, Indra Nila, Shobana Raghavan, Sukanya Rahman, Anita Ratnam, Donia Salem, Sophia Salingaros, Bijayini Satpathy, Surupa Sen, Reena Shah, Prashant Shah, Rohan Sheth , Kuldeep Singh Siddhu, Sonali Skandan, Anjna Swaminathan, Anand Vemuri, Vija Vetra, Jin Won, Sridhar.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deirdre Towers