Culture Connect Featured Event
Dancers for a Difference
A Husky Headliner Event
Founded in 2004, UConn Surya is a twenty-two member South Asian student fusion dance club. The epitome of East meets West, Surya's choreography represents an inspiration of classical dance and beats with a modern edge.
Bharata Natyam is one of the oldest forms of Classical dance in India. It is more than 2000 years old and it comes from Tamil Nadu which is located in South India. Originally, Bharata Natyam was only danced by women in the temples. The dance was considered a religious offering to the gods. Because Bharata Natyam is a religious dance, dancers start with a small prayer to mother earth. This prayer is performed to apologize to god for “stomping” one’s feet on the ground. Many believe the dance form originated when the Hindu God Brahma revealed the dance to the sage Bharata who then summarized the art form in the Sanskrit manuscript the Natya Shastra. The Natya Shastra is divided into two parts, Nritta which means pure dance and Nritya which means dramatic interpretive dance.
During the British occupation of India, Bharata Natyam was discouraged and repressed but during India’s freedom struggle in the first half of the twentieth century, the dance was revived by nationalists seeking to restore India’s unique cultural heritage. Today, Bharata Natyam is a very popular dance among Indians and non-resident Indians and is a source of immense cultural pride. There is usually at least one Bharata Natyam schools in major urban areas with Indian communities. Often these Bharata Natyam schools have seen fusions between the dance and Western dances such as ballet and jazz showing the influence Indian Classical dance has exerted.
Kathak traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathaks, or story tellers. These bards, performing in village squares and temple courtyards, mostly specialized in recounting mythological and moral tales from the scriptures, and embellished their recitals with hand gestures and facial expressions. It was quintessential theatre, using instrumental and vocal music along with stylized gestures, to enliven the stories. With the advent of Mughal culture, Kathak became a sophisticated chamber art. Patronized by art loving rulers, the practitioners of Kathak worked at refining its dramatic and rhythmic aspects, delighting elite audiences with their mastery over rhythm and the stylized mime.
The technique of Kathak today is characterized by fast rhythmic footwork set to complex time cycles. The footwork is matched by the accompanying percussion instruments such as tabla and pakhawaj, and the dancer and percussionists often indulge in a virtuoso display of rhythmic wizardry. The dance movements include numerous pirouettes executed at lightning speed and ending in statuesque poses. The interpretative portion, based on tales of Radha and Krishna and other mythological lore, contains subtle gestures and facial expressions. Lucknow, Banaras and Jaipur are recognized as the three schools, or gharanas, where this art was nurtured and where the interpretative and rhythmic aspects were refined to a high standard.