A Variety Show from Myanmar

Shwe Man Chan Thar makes his first appearance in "The Royal Duet in a Sylvan Setting. Watchin him: Chit Swan Thar (L) and Awra Aung. Photo: E.H. Wallop

[Shwe Man Thabin performs a Zat Pwe program at Asia Society.] One of the many things that struck me about the splendid exhibit Buddhist Art of Myanmar (at Asia Society through May 10) is the smile on the face of the many statues of Buddha on display. It’s a smile you sometimes see on dancers in traditional South Asian forms; no teeth are visible, and the slightly upturned corners of the … [Read more...]

Choreographers Get Their Feet Wet

Paul Matteson and Sara Hook in their Bored House Guests. Photo: Yi-Chun Wu

The Soaking Wet Festival at New York's West End Theater, October 2-5. Bored house guests. What does that mean to you? Unearthing the jigsaw puzzle because it’s raining and you can’t take them to the beach? The duet Bored House Guests, dreamed up and performed by Sara Hook and Paul Matteson as part of the Soaking Wet Festival, blasts open any of the usual images. Is the “house” in fact a … [Read more...]

Dancing for the Gods

Shantala Shivalingappa in her Kuchipudi solo Bhairava. Photo: Christopher Duggan

Shantala Shivalingappa's "Akasha," a program of new Kuchipudi solos, at Jacob's Pillow, July 4 through 7. It was at Jacob’s Pillow in the 1960s that I first saw examples of two dance styles that I’d never heard of: Odissi and Kuchipudi.  Indrani, that beneficent performer and promulgator of Indian dance, was giving a master class and had brought with her two male dancers, each of them … [Read more...]

Krishna to Krishna: “Damn You!”

Surupa Sen in Krishna's Lament. Photo: Nan Melville

The Hindu god Shiva is sometimes pictured in Indian art and philosophy as half-man, half-woman. One beguiling interpretation of this vision is that he ceded half of his body to his beloved consort, Parvati, to show how much he loved her. In Hinduism, the union—or desired union—between masculine god and desirous female soul is the subject of many ravishing poems and dances. But as the three members … [Read more...]