Recital to serve multiple purposes

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By Kirsten Laskey

India may be half around the world, but the influence of its culture reaches across oceans. Its presence can even be felt in the middle of the American West. The Los Alamos Family YMCA Kathak and Bharathatyan dance classes will host a dance recital from 4-6 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Duane Smith Auditorium.

Students will showcase traditional Kathak, a Northern Indian dance and Bharathatyan, a Southern Indian dance.

The traditional dance will also share the stage with modern ones. Kathak dance instructor Alina Deshpanhde explained they will show how the dances have evolved and how the Western civilization’s dance and music and Indian dance and music have rubbed off onto each other.

Besides Indian dance performances, guest artists from Dance Arts Los Alamos, Belisama Irish Dance Group, Melissa Balice and Anagha Dandekar will also perform.

A recital of such cultural richness is a real treat to the community.

Bharatnatyan dance instructor Kavita Nandakishore said, “Dance is a universal thing. Dance is something that unites people all over the world.”

Deshpanhde added, the recital is an “opportunity for people in different cultures to learn about each other. (It) kind of expands everyone’s horizons, too.”

It is also a learning experience for the students, too. Exposing young students to these dances, Nandakishore said they are learning about the culture, stories and perspectives in the dances. She added they also develop self-confidence on the stage.

The community welcomes these lessons, Deshpanhde said. Even though Los Alamos is a small community, is well blended, she said. “Its nice to expose people to these dances of India.”

The recital, which has been held for five years, is multi-purpose. It entertains, it educates and it also supports a civic cause.

This year, donations accepted at the show will go to a rural cancer center established by the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical Trust in Andhra, Pradeshi, India.

Dr. M.R. Raju of Los Alamos founded the center.  

Deshpanhde said the purpose of the center “is to provide cancer treatment and preventive care to those who don’t have access to care.”

She said Raju is a retired Los Alamos National Laboratory employee and it was his intention to take all his knowledge and experience and use it to benefit the people of India.

The recital has had success in many of the causes it has supported. Last year, the recital raised more than $2,000 for the Rotoaract Club. The civic organization initiated a program to set up scientific labs for rural children.

The money that is raised is purely through donations. Admission to the show is free.

For whatever reason people choose to attend this show, they are guaranteed to have a great time.

“Every year you see a different performance…as the years go by, students are progressing stage by stage … it gets more complex every year,” Nandakishore said. “They also help us teachers with choreographing.”

Deshpanhde said, “There’s a lot of color, variety, music … it should be a very entertaining experience the community.”