Shantala Shivalingappa: Swayambhu

When: Thu., June 6, 7 p.m., Fri., June 7, 7 p.m., Sat., June 8, 3 p.m. and Sun., June 9, 4 p.m. 2013

The easiest way to understand kuchipudi, the classical Indian dance form that Shantala Shivalingappa performs, is to think of ballet. Though the movements and gestures are established — grand jete, pirouette, etc. — the choreography itself is not. That’s why we have modern ballets as well as their older, classical predecessors. Kuchipudi is much the same, although the style is a great deal older, dating back to some time in the 13th century. Kuchipudi is also closely linked to the Indian mythology and storytelling tradition, with its hundreds of heroes, warriors, gods, and virtuous women. “Storytelling is definitely an integral part of the dance form, because it comes from a very theatrical form,” says Shivalingappa. “The other side of it is just energy and beauty of pure dance. It is a very joyful and energetic dance — it is very extroverted, really going out toward the audience.” As is the case with most Indian art forms, spirituality is an integral element of kuchipudi. “[Dancing] is also a moment to pray to the divine, when we’re trying to be in contact with an energy that is higher than us and that floats through everything that connects us, in a way, but that is bigger than each one of us,” she says. Shivalingappa will perform Swayambhu, a new choreography that premiered just two months ago. Approx. 1 hour, 30 minutes. Part of Spoleto Festival USA.

Price: $35

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