Doors at 7:30 pm; Children's performance at 8:00 pm, main performance at 8:30pm
Tickets are $15
Tonight we visit Indian dance as Ashkenaz and Women Drummers International celebrate Women’s History Month with our March series of special concerts and workshops, the Maestra Series. This series features women musicians, dancers and poets from around the world. The nights are filled with inspired culture, singing, dancing, drumming, performers in new groupings, once-only collaborations, and reunions of pioneering women musicians.
“Passage to India” features the Kalanjali Dance Company and School directed by Katherine Kunhiraman in a colorful series of solo and group dance performances featuring nearly 20 dancers and students from her youth and adult classes at Ashkenaz and elsewhere. The dances are in the Bharatanatyam style, India’s most ancient classical dance form. While adjusting to the contemporary stage format, the dance, with origins in Hindu temple ritual retains a spiritual element. Two senior artists, Vidya Sandarac and Kali Futnani who were trained in the 1980s and ‘90s at Ashkenaz and have continued to dance in India, will perform several dances. At Kalanjali: Dances of India, Kunhiraman explains that, “We teach the most authentic classical form of Bharatanatyam as we were taught in India, and also to impress upon our students a love for dance, and an understanding of its antiquity, scientifically evolved details and inherent beauty. Let them dance well, and let them become ambassadors of a cultural wealth reaching back thousands of years."
Katherine Kunhiraman has been teaching at Ashkenaz since 1985; her Kalanjali dance company was formed at Ashkenaz. Like many young people of her era, she went to India as a free-spirited teenager, fell in love with future husband and dance master K.P. Kunhiraman and the dance discipline he taught. In 1975 they moved from India to Berkeley and opened their dance school, Kalanjali. Over the years, the duo conducted a large number of performances and trained hundreds of students. In 1978 at the first San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival the Kunhiramans gave American audiences a taste of the classical Indian dance form called Kathakali. In 2014, shortly after K.P.’s death at the age of 83, they received the Malonga Casquelourd Lifetime Achievement Award.