By Melissa McKenzie
The beauty of classical Indian dance hit the floors of the Triton Museum of Art’s Warburton Gallery in what was the second installment of the new Triton Free Fridays series put on by the City of Santa Clara.
Shri Krupa Dance Company’s Sept. 5 show featured students of the school performing traditional dance in duets and groups, accompanied by a live music ensemble with traditional instruments and singing.
Performing against a backdrop of the museum’s current Karim Alwali exhibit and in front of South Indian decorations brought in by Shri Krupa, the dancers dazzled and delighted audience members with their colorful and richly decorated costumes, and the stories they told through expressive body, foot and arm movements. Founder and Shri Krupa Director Guru Vishal Ramani introduced each dance with each one taking viewers on a journey into ancient Indian epics - truly poetry in motion. And, while many in attendance were long-time fans of the art form, others were experiencing the style of dance for the first time.
Founded in 1977, Shri Krupa is the oldest Indian classical dance school in the Bay Area. Its tradition, Bharata Natyam is more than 1,000 years old, although the name is relatively recent - dating back to a period of revival in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The narrative dances express mystical ideas through the universal human experience reflected in stories from Tamil literature - a tradition that spans more than two millennia. Ramani has also choreographed stories from other traditions, including a recent composition, Tri-allel, that includes stories from Shakespeare.
“I enjoyed it,” said Mike O’Halloran, a Santa Clara Parks and Recreation commissioner, “looking forward to more.”
While the show, which ran approximately two hours, was taking place, Kathy Watanabe and Raj Chahal of the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association sold soda and wine to guests in the museum’s rotunda to support the group’s exchange program, and audience members snacked on vegetable samosas with green chutney and traditional Indian sweets made of cheese and rose water.
“Everyone was amazing,” said Noopur Pandey of Menlo Park. “Congrats to the entire team and to Vishal Ramani for [putting together the] amazing choreography and stunning dancing.”
The event was also supported by the Santa Clara Performing Arts Foundation. The next Triton Free Friday show will be held on Friday, Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and features Dave Rocha who appeared in the City’s Concerts in the Park series.