Performers reflect rich heritage through traditional Indian dance

September 13, 2011

By Caleb Heeringa

Abhinay Fine Arts classical Indian dance ‘Kshetram,’ or ‘temple,’ dancers (from left) Lakshmi Sanjay, Supriya Unnikrishnan, Bhavana Kudikala, Preetha Anandh, of Sammamish, and Smitha Krishnan, of Issaquah, will debut their program Sept. 25 in Bellevue. By Abhinay Fine Arts

Issaquah and Sammamish residents are among those involved in an upcoming dance production that details the origins of five holy Hindu temples.

The production, “Kshetram,” features dance, music and poetry from India that weaves together the stories of the beginnings of five of the 108 temples dedicated to Vishnu, the god of Vishnavite Hinduism. The event is organized by Abhinay Fine Arts, an Eastside nonprofit organization that promotes classical Indian art in the Seattle area.

The production includes three different and distinct forms of Indian dance. Sammamish resident Preetha Anandh perfoms “Bharatanatyam,” a fast-paced dance with structured footwork that is said to represent fire.

Issaquah resident Smitha Krishnan performs “Mohiniattam,” a more fluid dance with facial expressions and hand gestures that signifies the “breeze blowing through the paddy fields” of Kerala, a state at the southern tip of India.

Both Anandh and Krishnan were trained in their dances while growing up in India. Anandh, who came to the United States four years ago, said events like this help keep the traditions and art of the Indian community alive. That’s especially important for the children of Indian immigrants who were born here in America, she said.

If you go

‘Kshetram’

  • Meydenbauer Theater
  • 11100 N.E. Sixth St., Bellevue
  • 3:30 p.m. Sept. 25
  • $20; children 6 and younger free; VIP donor tickets are $50 or $100
  • http://abhinayfinearts.org

“It’s an opportunity for the kids to see our cultural heritage,” Anandh said. “For lots of next-generation kids, this might be their first time seeing this.”

In addition to the dance performances, the production includes original music composed and recorded in India for the event. Lakshmi Sanjay and Sanjay Subramanian, co-founders of Abhinay Fine Arts, flew to India to recruit musicians and record the music.

The production has been a six-month labor of love for Anandh and Krishnan. With the performance date approaching, the two have been rehearsing their parts daily.

“The dance is very demanding physically,” Krishnan said. “If we don’t practice every day we won’t have the stamina to perform it.”

With all the hard work that’s gone into the production, Anandh and Krishnan said they are hopeful that Sept. 25 will be the first of many showings.

“This is just the debut performance,” Anandh said. “We’re hoping we’ll have more opportunities to perform it because we’ve put so much money and effort into it.”

Caleb Heeringa: 392-6434, ext. 247, or cheeringa@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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