Dances of India presents 'Aladdin'

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Charity > Proceeds go to hospice care for elderly in Kerala, India

By The Staff

The annual Dances with India show will present an Indian adaptation of “Aladdin” featuring students from the Los Alamos YMCA’s Kathak and Bharatnatyam classes, as well as guest dancers and actors from the greater Los Alamos community.


The show will be 4-6 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Los Alamos High Duane Smith Auditorium. Admission is free, however donations by check or cash will be appreciated. All proceeds will go to Santhitheeram — a charitable trust for hospice care for the elderly in Kerala, India.

The production is written and directed by Alina Deshpande and choreographed by Deshpande and Kavita Nandkishore. Deshpande and Nandkishore volunteer to teach two Indian classical dance forms at the Los Alamos Family YMCA and Y-Express.

“Every year the charity is different,” Deshpande said. “We have raised funds for orphanges and schools — mostly children charities, but this year we are trying a new demographic.”

The show bring Indian dance to a traditional show with two forms of Indian dances — the Kathak and the Bharata Natyam. “They are diverse sets of dances,” Deshpande said.

Kathak, taught by Deshpande, is a North Indian classical dance form that had origins with Kathakars or storytellers. It evolved over time and absorbed many features from Persian dance after the Mughal Empire took hold in India.
This dance is characterized by graceful symmetric arm movements coupled with intricate patterns of footwork and fast pirouettes.

The dancers also tell stories through their expressions and body movements keeping alive the story telling aspects.
A highly rhythmic dance, Kathak is supported by the tabla (percussion) and classical routines are performed to Hindustani classical music. Deshpande has trained under Guru Maneesha Sathe in Pune, India for 11 years and has been teaching Kathak at the Y since 2004.

Bharata Natyam is a classical Indian dance form that is popular and nurtured in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is known for its grace, purity, tenderness and sculpturesque poses.

Today, it is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles and is practiced by male and female dancers all over the world.

The name Bharatanatyam is a simple derivation from the four most important aspects of dance. These are: Bhava meaning emotion, Raaga meaning music or melody, Taala meaning rhythm and Natyam meaning dance. Thus Bharatanatyam is the dance that encompasses music, rhythm and expressions and strictly adheres to the Natyashastra, the scripture of classical Indian dance.

This dance style is characterized by a linear form of the body without any pronounced movement of the upper body and linear spatial patterns, which makes the dance form extremely dynamic and powerful.

Nandakishore is a professional Indian Classical Bharatanatyam dancer from India. Since 2007, she has been a dance instructor at the Family YMCA in Los Alamos.

Over the years since Nandakishore moved to the United States, she has performed for various events in Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque in New Mexico. She has also been choreographing and performing various types of dances for the annual Dances of India show every October. Each year her students too get to show their creative side in the annual show.

Nandakishore also showcased her talent at EVOKE! World Music and Dance Concert, Center For Contemporary Arts, Albuquerque Folk Festival and the Santa Fe Folk Art Market Festival. She is a regular performer at the annual Diwali show, which is organized by the India Association of New Mexico.

Nandakishore said, “I believe that all classical dance forms of India are a living, breathing art form. I want to inculcate in every person’s mind the importance of classical dance through my performances. With my contribution to this field, I would try to give my best to the upbringing of this art. I would also like to pursue this art of dance further and achieve a name in this field.”

In the past, Dances of India has performed adaptions of “Snow White” and “Alice In Wonderland.” “They do not resemble any Disney movie versions, the theme is very different,” Deshpande said.

Deshpande and Nandkishore also teach dance workshops at the Family YMCA and the Y-Express in Los Alamos, Family Fun Nights at the Mesa Public Library and the Folk Art Festivals in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

Aladdin will be played by Daniel Sarrao. Other cast members are Rajendra Vaidya as the King, Ashivini Vaidya as Jasmine, Charles Herrmann as Jafar, Deshpande plays Jafar’s mother and Nandkishore rounds out the main cast as the Genie.