FSU brings Indian dance culture to Forum

(Dancers from the Natyamani School of Dance perform for an audience as part of FSU’s “Stasis and Change” series. Photo by Amanda Martin.)

Indian culture permeated the McCarthy Forum on Monday, March 28 as about 40 students, faculty and guests watched a performance of classical Indian music and dancing.

The performance was divided into two portions and ended with a short personal dance.

The first portion was a 25-minute musical performance. Two performers played the veena, a string instrument, while another played along on the mridangam, a drum.

The veena is a large string instrument which resembles a guitar. It is played by pushing on strings while sliding up and down the frets on the neck with one hand and plucking the strings with the other, creating high, shaky pitches.

The mridangam is a barrel-shaped drum that has two heads, on the top and bottom, and is played horizontally.

After the performance, during an audience discussion, the difference in rhythm was addressed. Each instrument was “doing their own thing” and did not sync with each other, said one audience member. The mridangam did not keep a consistent tempo, as drums usually do, but created its own rhythm, as did the two veenas.

The second portion was a 22-minute act split into three numbers, performed by eight young Indian women, students of the Natyamani School of Dance.

The first dance was a prayer to Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. The dance consisted of multiple movements to represent the god. The stomping in this piece was meant simulate that of an elephant. There were also movements of the hands to shape the ears, stiff arms pointed upward with bent wrists to imitate the trunk and prayer hands to represent their worship.

The second dance was a piece on the cosmic dancer Lord Nataraja. The third and final dance was a Thillana, an intricate, pure form of dance.

The event was closed by Dr. Smitha Radhakrushnan of NATyA Dance Studio. She performed her own choreographed piece called “Night Out.” Her piece was a blend of traditional Indian and present day music.

Many FSU students said this was their first time attending an event dedicated to another culture, and they enjoyed their experience.

Sophomore Sarah Sousa said, “I think it was awesome. The music was definitely different than what I’m used to hearing and the dancing was super cool being a dancer myself, seeing something different and something so intricate.”

Sophomore Austin Gaudreau said, “I thought it was honestly pretty cool, nothing like I’ve seen before, nothing like American dancing. The music was awesome. It was a huge culture shock.”

Freshman Eric Duong said, “I really enjoyed it. … It was my first time experiencing Indian music live.”

Sean Fiedler, a senior, said, “It was enjoyable … It is nice to see kind of a graceful dance of moving with the music even though the instruments sometimes go off key from each other. It was pretty interesting.”

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