Samhara: The Braid
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Odissi and Kandyan dance by The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble in collaboration with The Chitrasena Dance Company
Samhara which in Sanskrit means collection, practice, skill, compilation or drawing together, brings together two dance traditions, Odissi from India and Kandyan dance from Sri Lanka, both of which began in temples as ritual performance.
The idea of a cross-cultural collaboration sprang from a study of the NatyaShastra, an Indian treatise on the performing arts that encompasses theatre, dance and music, which was written between 200 BCE and 200 CE. Sometimes referred to as the fifth Veda, the NatyaShastra is said to belong to Jambudwipa, and ancient Puranic geography tells us that Jambudwipa refers to Eurasia.
With this sacred geography, the cultural unity of the whole region was a compelling idea.Working from the premise that the NatyaShastra is the root of all dance traditions in Jambudwipa, we began with finding a vocabulary of dance using the performance practice of India and Sri Lanka.
After our four-year interaction with the Chitrasenas, it became apparent that the two regions had shared elemental connections by way of dance. This unified search yielded a unique collaboration that weaves together distinct dance styles to create an entirety and connects us to our ancient wholeness. Almost as if the Indian Ocean never separated us. Samhara will commence with Arpaam, a prayer to invoke the benevolence of Goddess Parvati and seek her blessings.