Indian dance troupe in rare Sweden show

Indian dance troupe in rare Sweden show
While "Slumdog Millionaire" brought Bollywood music to the movie-going masses, the Indian embassy is aiming to broaden Swedes' appreciation of the culture of the sub-continent with a programme of classical dance.

The two dance styles Bharatanatyam and Kathak are both classical dances with different ties to Indian culture. While both have specific historical meaning for Hindus and Indian people, they are also meant to entertain the audience.

“It is both spiritual and entertainment,” Sunita Rao at the Indian Embassy told The Local, adding that it’s an important part of Indian culture.

Bharatanatyam is a dance that dates back about 2000 years, and is perhaps the most famous of the eight classical dances of India. The name incorporates words meaning Expression, Music and Rhythm, which is exactly what people should expect from the performance, Rao said.

Bharatanatyam is considered the most religiously inspired of the two, as dancers are portrayed as Hindu gods and other spiritual beings.

Kathak is also among the most well-known classical Indian dances, but as opposed to Bharatanatyam, it illustrates nomadic bards from northern India known as kathak, or storytellers.

These nomads would perform around the lands in courtyards and village squares, and convey mythological and moral tales from ancient scriptures with lively dances, accompanied by vocal and instrumental music.

The Indian embassy has worked for many years to bring the world renowned performers to Sweden, aiming to provide cultural insight to the locals and offer a slice of home for the approximately 18,000 Indian-born people living in Sweden.

“This should be very interesting for Swedes as well since it’s a very different form of dance,” Rao said. “There’s a lot of quick motion with hands and feet which one doesn’t usually see in other types of dance.”

Although there are some places that offer courses in Kathak in Sweden, Rao explains that the dance most associated with India is the sort often featured in “Bollywood” films, and that’s very different.

For this performance, eleven Indian dancers are invited to the Södra Teatern in Stockholm, among those the troupe leaders Saroja Vaidyanathan and Shovana Narayanan, both known around the globe for their respective dance styles.

After the 12 separate dance numbers, seven in Bharatanatyam style and five in Kathak, the groups will get together for what is called a jugalbandi and perform together for the grand finale.

Rao will no doubt attend the performances herself, she said, and urges others not to miss the chance to join her.

“These are world famous dancers and it’s not very often they come here.”

The Indian Classical Dances will be performed at Södra Teatern on November 3rd at 7pm. Tickets are 180 kronor ($27).

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