Sunday, September 12, 2004

Dr. Jayanthi Raman September 10 

September 10

Dr. Jayanthi Raman

Impressions: There was a warm rain tonight. Rain is best when warm. It
felt like some kind of absolution as I rode my bike along the waterfront
past all the sleeping people. Each wrapped in their bedding on the grass.
One woman chose the pavement. I wondered if she slept better on pavement
than grass or if she had just fallen asleep there by accident. The
Schnitzer was a stunning contrast. It is over the top elegant with its
chandeliers, glowing inverted domes along the ceiling and crowns on either
side of the stage. The light and luster of it crowded around me as I
entered and I forgot all about sleeping people and could only feel my face
which was too warm. Much of the audience was dressed seemingly in
correlation with the performance. Lovely women in saris and I could have
watched them all night. Just as the lights dimmed, a young boy yelled the
word “chapstick” three times in a questioning tone of voice. That’s true.
I’m not making it up. It was unrelated to the show in question though. Dr.
Jayanthi Raman created a dance performance based on the story of Elephant
Headed Lord Ganesha. My friend told me that this particular deity was
created by the Goddess Parvathi from the mud of her body, from sandal paste
and her own perspiration. He is later beheaded by her love, the Lord Shiva
apparently in a kind of misunderstanding. Anyway, the boy ends up being
reborn with an elephant head, given life as the remover of obstacles. I
admit that I went into it hoping for a kind of Bollywood show with giant
elephant heads, bloodletting and maybe a little romantic interest. In
actually, it was a far more subtle and indicative of careful research. The
musicians made a fantastic tidal wave of sound. There was a problem with
scale though. The dance seemed to be about details and tiny gestures that
indicate larger things. Way in the back all I could see was a huge stage
swallowing tiny dancers. Everything dissolved in the flat gray light.
There were moments though when the background became a deep blue and the
dancers were spot lit like jewels, literally sparkling. In these moments
the dancers came to life, stamping like angry moths, their wings of red and
gold wrapped and swirling around them.


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