Tagore's Story in Dance Ballet
Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, one of India’s literary titans, continues to inspire Indian artists through his voluminous legacy of poetry, prose, and fiction. Anuradha Nag, artistic director, Tarangini School of Kathak Dance, says that she has been inspired by Tagore’s story Khudito Pashan since childhood and translating it into a dance ballet is a “dream come true” for her. “Many read this story and think of it as a spine-chilling mystery that revolves around ghosts,” says Nag. “As an artist, I have tried to look at this as a story about our quest to find the perfect partner in life.” The story starts with a tax collector in colonial India who moves into a marble mansion in a small town. He is warned that previous occupants were scared by ghosts who had taken over the palace grounds. He decides to stay there anyway, and then, as night falls, the mansion is transformed with the sounds of laughter and gaiety, and he lays eyes upon a beautiful woman who entrances him. Every meeting with her is magical and unearths deep desires in him, and he pursues the recreation of those moments with intense desire. “There are rare and ephemeral moments in our lives,” Nag adds, “when all boundaries of space, time, and convention are thrown to the wayside by the strength of our desire. To me, Khudito Pashan captures those rare moments through the desire that the tax collector feels. I read this story as a child, and it is a dream come true to have brought my choreographic vision and transform this story into a dance ballet.” Nag uses Tagore’s poems to bring out the feelings of the tax collector, and Urdu ghazals to recreate the mood within the palace. The use of Tagore’s poetry and Urdu ghazals fits in well, underscoring the historical evolution of kathak, which moved from the temples in India to the Mughal courts, where it continued to thrive for several centuries. Guest dancers Ashimbandhu Bhattacharjee and Luna Poddar are traveling from India to take part in this production. Bhattacharjee will play the role of the tax collector. The first half of the program will showcase students of Tarangini demonstrating their knowledge of the technical aspects of kathak. The finale for this segment will be Khoj (Search), where senior students of the school will participate. Khoj captures the disillusionment felt by the gopis after Krishna leaves Vrindavan. They are left with intense memories of his presence, and sorrow builds even as the monsoon season approaches. They then celebrate his memory by trying to recreate ecstatic moments of dancing with him. —Nirupama Vaidhyanathan Saturday, Nov. 11, 4:30-8 p.m. (students’ showcase followed by Khudito Pashan). Smithwick Theater, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Rd., Los Altos Hills. $18 general, $30 reserved, $50 VIP. $2 parking in college lot. (408) 472-1052, (510) 415-2842, (650) 766-9965.