SAIIER 2014:"Shyaam - An Evening with Krishna"

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Auroville Singing Festival
"Shyaam - An Evening with Krishna"
An Odissi dance drama on Krishna's childhood

I, Kanchana, started teaching Odissi dance in Auroville 18 years ago and have been teaching since then in Udavi, SAWCHU and Pitanga. We have worked on many projects over the years. Odissi is one of the many forms of Indian classical dance. It is the epitome of fluid grace and has a distinctively lyrical quality. My students and I have performed the classical repertoire on many occasions and have also worked on dance pieces for some of Partha’s plays.

In 2008, I worked with the group that had studied dance with me from the beginning of Udavi (then the 10th standard) on Ramayana, a dance drama. A dance drama is an expressional dance which is an enactment of a story, conveyed to the audience through mudras (hand gestures), bhavas (facial expression) and body language. This mode of expression opened the doors to different possibilities and brought about a big shift of level in the children.

Last year we decided to produce another dance drama, this time combining all my students – all the age groups, all the levels, students from Udavi and Auroville schools, to work together on the story of Krishna’s childhood. Working together was a challenge and an amazing experience, as everyone learnt from each other.

The story of Krishna is well-known and well loved. He is worshiped as the naughty little child – stealing butter and playing pranks; as the young boy – loved by all the gopis; and as the upholder of Dharma – the supreme incarnation of Vishnu.

I started by reading the story and explaining it to the children. We chose the music according to the mood of the story and then played it to the children and asked them to come up with ideas. Using some of their ideas and adding some we worked together.

From the months of June till September, we worked twice a week with each group during their dance class hours. To make things easier, as homework I would ask them to improve on what they had learnt in class. At the end of September during the holidays, we had daily run-throughs with the whole group and presented them to a select audience for feedback. For the next 3 months, October through December, we worked on incorporating the feedback and rehearsing together. The last 2 weeks of the holidays in December were focused on the details and perfecting everything.

This production was dedicated to the memory of Anu ben and her understanding of the importance of dance in education. The cast comprised of 45 dancers who have learnt from me for a varying number of years. Having worked from June 2013 to Jan 2014, we performed in Udavi on the 4th of Jan, for the children’s parents, friends and the outreach schools of Auroville, on the 10th in Bharat Nivas for the other Auroville schools and on the 11th also in Bharat Nivas for an open Auroville audience.

We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to have worked for so many months and for all the help and support that we received that made it possible to present this dance drama. The materials that were bought and made for this performance will remain useful for the years to come.

It was a beautiful collaboration as we were all happy to work together and learn from each other.

Production team

  • Director – Kanchana
  • Co-Directors – Shrishti and Smiti
  • Music Editor – Samuel
  • Sets – Aurevan
  • Costumes – Kiran and Lively Boutique
  • Lights – Jean and Kumaran
  • Narration – Harini and Deepti
  • Guidance – Rekha
  • Sponsors – Udavi School and SAIIER
  • AdvisorSanjeev