To commemorate 35 years of teaching in S. California, Ramya Harishankar, the award winning Artistic Director and choreographer of the Irvine based Arpana Dance Company presented Celluloid Classics 2 on Saturday, April 16, 2017 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Along with guest choreographer and co-director Radhika Shurajit (first disciple of the renown Dhananjayans) they put classical Indian dance moves to film (Bollywood, Kollywood etc) tunes thru the ages featuring over 24 Arpana dancers. In the past 3 decades, Harishankar has explored various themes in her productions – womanhood, the essence of dance and also cross-cultural work using Japanese Taiko drummers and a Flamenco ensemble. Shurajit with a passion for films has been exploring and creating works that bring together the classical with the popular arts.
Dhvani presents Ramya Harishankar & the Arpana Dance Company in Celluloid Classics.
From the beginnings of ‘celluloid’ in India, song and dance was an integral part of movie magic. Legendary artistes like Vyjayanthimala (singer/actress), Gopi Krishna (dancer/choreographer) and M.S. Subbalakshmi (singer/actress) and several others were involved in films. With the influences of western music in the 60’s, the classical traditions parted ways with the film industry and/or popular genre of music and dance. There has been a revival of the relationship in recent years with Carnatic music singers like Bombay Jayashree and Unnikrishnan singing in movies and the legendary Birju Maharaj choreographing for the Oscar entry ‘Devdas’ and more recently in ‘Viswaroopam’.
Using popular film songs in different languages, Harishankar and Shurajit will adapt them to fit into the classical and folk dance traditions without sacrificing the grammar. ‘Choreographing for the reel is quite different than for the real stage’ says Shurajit. For Celluloid Classics they have chosen songs that will adapt well for interpretation through dance. ‘All art and artistes continuously strive to communicate and move audiences and one has to constantly find new ways to accomplish that. That is the beauty and benefit of classical forms and those trained in it. ’ said Harishankar. The first iteration was staged in 2003, well before Bollywood became a household word. This iteration will feature a new repertoire from the contemporary to the classical genre. For movie, classical music or dance aficionados, this is an exciting blend that is sure to educate and entertain.