Thursday, October 10, 2013

37th annual Navaratri Festival features world famous flute virtuoso and acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer (Oct. 10-13)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 discusses the 37th annual Navaratri Festival at Wesleyan, which takes place from Thursday, October 10 through Sunday, October 13, 2013, in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog.

The sound spirals from Shashank Subramanyam’s bamboo flute, lingering in the air, each note like a bird taking flight. The cadence flutters, falls, and rises again. He sits at ease before the mesmerized audience. He has done this a million times before and traveled all over the world to perform, from the President’s Palace in New Delhi to the Improvisation Festival in Switzerland to the World Flute Conference in Nashville. His next destination? Middletown, Connecticut for Wesleyan’s 37th annual Navaratri Festival.

One of India’s major festival traditions, Navaratri literally means “nine nights.” During this time, there are nine consecutive nights of music and dance performances all across India. 37 years ago, Wesleyan’s first ever visiting artist for World Music and his brother began the tradition of celebrating Navaratri at Wesleyan. The festival has become one of the University’s most cherished and unique traditions, and Wesleyan Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music B. Balasubrahmaniyan (Balu) says there are no other festivals of its nature or scale in the United States. This year’s festival brings two world famous artists to campus, one for the second time, and the other for the first.
Shashank Subramanyam
Mr. Subramanyam performed at Wesleyan’s Navaratri Festival in September 2003 [during the 30th anniversary season of the Center for the Arts], and it is a great honor to welcome him back this year. Deemed a child prodigy, he has played a defining role in classical Indian music for the past three decades. In 1984, only six years old at the time, he played with a top-ranking accompanist in his debut performance. At age twelve, he became the youngest musician to ever perform the senior-most slot at the Music Academy, Chennai, a performance typically entrusted to legendary musicians.  Since then, he himself has become a legend of classical Indian music.
Balu describes Mr. Subramanyam as a “self-made musician” and speaks to his extraordinary talent and remarkable versatility.  According to Balu, “he can handle any type of composition with ease.” Mr. Subramanyam has collaborated with many other musicians, including jazz and folk musicians, and in 2009 he received a Grammy Award nomination for the album Floating Point with John McLaughlin.  At Wesleyan, Nishanth Chandran will join him on violin and Sai Giridhar on mridangam.  The performance will take place in Crowell Concert Hall on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 8pm. Earlier that day, at 3pm in Crowell Concert Hall, Mr. Subramanyam will give a free lecture/demonstration.
Aparna Ramaswamy
On Sunday, another world famous artist, dancer Aparna Ramaswamy, takes the stage in Crowell Concert Hall for the Connecticut premiere of Sannidhi (Sacred Space).  Ms. Ramaswamy has also performed all across the globe, but never before at Wesleyan [or in Connecticut]. She is a disciple of Alarmel Valli, one of the greatest Bharatanatyam dancers today, and like her legendary teacher, Ms. Ramaswamy infuses traditional Bharatanatyam dance with her own contemporary aesthetic. Wesleyan Assistant Professor of Dance Hari Krishnan explains, “Aparna uses the classical grammar of Bharatanatyam as a framework, a kind of empty canvas upon which she imprints hues, colors and tints of her personality.”

A new solo dance work, Sannidhi (Sacred Space) explores how the stage can be transformed into a spiritual site. The performance employs the rich tradition of Bharatanatyam dance as a means of posing timeless questions about space and spirituality. “Aparna has created an exciting, brand new repertoire of dances that take audiences on a journey of kinesthetic spectacle, emotional intensity, and gorgeous musicality,” Mr. Krishnan said. “She is always present on stage and engages with the audiences with every fiber of her being.”  Sannidhi (Sacred Space) will take place at 3pm on Sunday, October 13, 2013 and will include a post-performance question-and-answer session with Ms. Ramaswamy.

[Click here to read the October 8 article by Siobhan Burke in The New York Times, Pleasing Deities, and the Eyes, With Storytelling Steps From India, which includes a review of Sannidhi (Sacred Space).]

Navaratri is a celebration of music and dance, a time to rejoice, share food, and be with family and friends.  We hope you will join us in welcoming Mr. Subramanyam and Ms. Ramaswamy into our community.

37th annual Navaratri Festival

Henna and Chaat hosted by Shakti
Thursday, October 10, 2013 from 7pm to 9pm
Olin Library Lobby

B. Balasubrahmaniyan: Vocal Music of South India
Friday, October 11, 2013 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
$12 general public; $10 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Talk by Assistant Professor of Dance Hari Krishnan:
"Celluloid Classicism--Intertwined Histories of the South Indian 'Dance Revival' and Early South Indian Cinema
Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 1pm
CFA Hall

Lecture/Demonstration by Shashank Subramanyam
Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 3pm
Crowell Concert Hall

Shashank Subramanyam
Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
$15 general public; $12 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Saraswati Puja (Hindu Ceremony)
Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 11am
World Music Hall

Aparna Ramaswamy: Sannidhi (Sacred Space)
Connecticut Premiere
Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 3pm

Crowell Concert Hall
$15 general public; $12 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

Made possible by the Music Department, the Center for the Arts, the Jon B. Higgins Memorial Fund, the Madhu Reddy Endowed Fund for Indian Music and Dance at Wesleyan University, the Raga Club of Connecticut, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Middlesex Community College, Haveli Indian Restaurant, and individual patrons.

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