september 9 2017

Jwala 

 
 
 

Choreograher’s note:

      Jwala explores an image that is central to all cultures, both in daily life and in philosophy: The Flame. To me, the Flame is fascinating – strong, yet vulnerable. And it is this enigmatic quality that has given rise to this work. The same flame that burns is that which illuminates. It’s about saying good-bye and looking ahead, about release and hope, about shedding and seeking. The flame is a symbol that connects all the worlds, the cosmic, the temporal, the mythical, and the spiritual. As a dancer and a human being, negotiating the connection between these worlds intrigues me!

         Jwala tries to envision “Flame” through the language of Bharata Natyam, a form which is incredibly codified in its gestural language and structure, but has tremendous scope for interpretation and creative liberty. This work is classical, yet experimental. The challenge has been in finding the technique to embody the various qualities of flame – from the aggressive and destructive fire, to the radiant and illuminating candle, from the blazing Sun that lights our Universe, to the inner flame that yearns for Liberation. This production is both incredibly personal and universal, and I look forward to sharing it with you all this evening.

Program

Surya (the Sun)

Verses of Vedic hymn are interspersed with rhythmic passages in “Surya” which extols the powerful and dynamic qualities of the Cosmic Flame that illuminates the physical universe. Radiant is He, who drives across the sky in his seven-horse chariot, dispelling darkness. In His warmth, nature blooms and oceans are replenished. He is the eye of the Universe, enabling the cycles of creation, preservation, and destruction.

Music Composition: Debur Srivathsa

Dance Choreography: Mythili Prakash

Jwala (Rising Flame)

"Jwala" tells a story of life and death through the silent witness, the Flame.

"I am the flickering flame. As the raging fire, I burn. As the radiant lamp, I illuminate. I am both the funeral pyre and the lamp of auspiciousness. I witness death, loss, release. I witness birth, hope, new beginnings. And yet, I remain the ever-burning flame." 

Lyrics: Subramanya Bharathi, Mahesh Swamy

Music Composition: Aditya Prakash

 

 

Shakti (Energy)

The dynamic, creative energy of the Universe is visualized as the Dancing Goddess, Shakti. When the heaviness of the worlds weighs upon us, she is the rising light of the spirit that lifts us. Like mother nurtures child, she ignites the tiny spark within each being, kindling the transformation toward illumination.

Lyrics: Subramanya Bharathi

Music Composition: Lalitha Sivakumar

Shraddha (Faith)

Throughout the ages, mankind has experienced violence, oppression, and cruelty. Where is the hope in these times of darkness? Where is the light? Only in faith, says Poet Meera bai. Krishna, you are my beacon of light. Draupadi humiliated in the court of the Kauravas, Prahlada tormented by his father, Gajendera persescuted by the crocodile, where did they find strength? Only in surrender at your lotus feet.

Lyrics: Meera Bai

Becoming

Through movement and abstraction, this piece embodies the burning yearning of the seeker. Piercing through veils, scaling new heights, peeling away temporal layers in the journey toward liberation, the seeker becomes the sought.

Lyrics: Hazrat Zaheen Taji

Music Composition: Muzafar Ali, Aditya Prakash

 

Artists:

Concept and choreography: Mythili Prakash

Vocal and Music Composition: Aditya Prakash

Nattuvangam and Vocal: Ramya Sundaresan Kapadia

Mridangam: Rajna Swaminathan

Violin: Shiva Ramamurthi

Lighting Design: Eileen Cooley

In the transfixing solo “Jwala: Rising Flame,” Ms. Prakash invokes the image of fire and its behavior: how it moves, what it means, what it gives and takes from us. Her warmth and brightness as a performer suit the theme; those qualities surfaced as soon as the light came up on her slowly turning figure. Five musicians, including her brother, the vocalist Aditya Prakash, joined her onstage, and from the first moment, music and dance worked together in trance-inducing harmony.
— The New York Times, April 2016