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SF Ethnic Dance Festival spotlights classical Indian dance

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"Fresh, spunky" Nava Dance Theatre made its EDF debut
PHOTO BY ALEXANDER RENEFF-OLSON

In its first appearance at the EDF, San Francisco's Nava Dance Theatre proved itself a fresh, spunky, and musically-aware bharatanatyam company. In its piece, a love-struck young man (a dreamily handsome Arun Mathai) was comforted by a bevy of young maidens. A spectacular, theatrically savvy soloist, Bhavajan Kumar, may yet do for bharatanatyam what Joaquín Cortés did for flamenco.

In their celebratory kuchipudi — bharatanatytam's younger, looser sister — the nine young women of San Jose's Natyalaya school of dance handled the rigors of their geometries with considerable grace. Maybe one day we'll see them perform to live music.

Charming, yet very serious in odissi were Maya Lochana Devalcheruvu (age 11) and Akhil Shrinivasan (10). Young as they are, they already showed odissi's curved body position and light footwork. With good stage presence, they knew what they were aiming for. The duo then welcomed Sujata Mohapatra, an exquisite odissi dancer light but firm on her feet, floating on her toes, and her rippling neck enhancing the facial expressions.

Though in mourning, Kalanjali: Dances of India performed Tillana, the final section in a bharatanatyam performance, for which the dancers pull together everything they learned. These women probably did. *

SAN FRANCISCO ETHNIC DANCE FESTIVAL

Through June 29, $18-$58

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater

700 Howard, SF

www.worldartswest.org

 

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