Shilpanatanam: An Evening of Indian Classical Dance
Tuesday, November 7, 2023 | 6:00-8:00pm
Free: This event is provided at no charge
Falk College and the College of Arts and Sciences invite the Syracuse University community to a dance recital by Maya Kulkarni, Mesma Belsare, and Kaustavi Sarkar at the Everson Museum of Art and dance workshops at the Everson and the Syracuse University Art Museum.
Choreographed by Kulkarni, a noted danseuse and dance researcher, the recital is inspired by Shilpanatanam (Dancing Work of Art), a genre that draws upon sculpture and paintings from historic Hindu temples in India. Kulkarni, who is trained in Bharatanatyam, one of the oldest classical Indian dance traditions, will be joined by Belsare and Sarkar, two classically trained dancers who will bring Odissi, another classical dance tradition, to the stage. Bharatanatyam and Odissi trace their origins back to the Natyasastra, the earliest known treatise on dance in South Asia, which theorizes the expressive potential of dance through an interplay between rasa (emotional state) and bhava (emotive state): rasa is evoked by a succession of bhavas in an artistic performance. Today’s classical dancers rely on abhinaya (expression) and nritya (dance) to evoke rasa. Kulkarni, Belsare, and Sarkar will premier two new dance pieces in Syracuse, including one based on Jatayu, a character from the Ramayana, an ancient Sanskrit epic.
About the Dancers:
Mesma Belsaré is a dancer, choreographer, actor and painter. Described by The NY Times as “a tour de force; a true act of transcendence and religious immersion“, and by the The Dance Current magazine as “as mesmerizing as staring into the heart of a ﬁre”, Belsaré is a recipient of the Dance/USA 2023 National Fellowship, the Cambridge Arts Council Artist-Grant, NEFA Dance Fund, and the Government of Delhi Classical Arts Scholarship. Her gurus and mentors include Sri Shankar Hombal and Padmashri Geeta Chandran (India), and currently, Dr. Maya Kulkarni (New York). Belsaré holds a Masters in Art Education, with a history of museum education at the Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, MA), and MassArt Art Museum (Boston, MA). Besides the traditional repertory of classical Bharatanātyam, her dance productions include “Medea” (2022), “Plato’s Allegory of the Cave” (2020), “In Each is Both” (2019), “Mohini” (2019), “Sāyankālé” (2019), “Carmine Bees” (2018), “The Vermin’s Will” (2014), “Unquiet Epics” (2012), “Zan: Women in the Shahnameh” (2010), and “Shilpa Nrityam” (2002).Commissioned dance-ﬁlms include ‘Chinnamastā’ (2022) and ‘In the Creator’s Gaze’ (2020). In 2017 Belsaré co-founded Samvād Boston, an organization to build supportive communities for Indian classical dancers and musicians.
A dancer, choreographer, dance teacher, and commentator, Maya Kulkarni is a highly respected and well-known figure in the Indian dance world. Trained under India’s foremost dance Gurus Maya has an extensive repertoire and is deeply rooted in the classical dance genre. She won widespread praise for her flawless technique and story-telling abilities as a performer. Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times hailed her as the ‘Dancer’s Dancer”. In the past decade, she had choreographed 30 new works in the newly developed Shilpanatana form of dance. Among these, “The Allegory of the Cave” by Plato (Drive East Festival 2019), “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, “Medea’s Passion” (We are Dancing Festival 2022), and “Adventures of a Naughty Bee”(6 performances at Queens Dance festival August 2023) stretch the boundaries of the classical forms to non-traditional themes. While “Ardhanatri”(2018), Sayankale (2018), Yakshini (scheduled for the 2023 We Are Dancing Festival) and ‘Durga’ (2022) are closer to the classical form. ‘Kundalini Rising’ and “Kavacham” – two ensemble pieces premiered at the Battery Dance Festival in 2021. In collaboration with Mesma Belsare, Kulkarni produced: ‘In the Creator’s Gaze’ shown in Still Point Expanding film festival (2020) and ‘Chinnamasta’ in the Grotesque Goddesses” dance film Festival in December 2021. Maya is a recipient of the Ohio Arts Council grant last year and a National Endowment for Arts grant this year for collaborative work with Kaustavi Sarkar.
Dr. Kaustavi Sarkar, Assistant Professor of Dance at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, is an Odissi (eastern Indian traditional art form) soloist, scholar, and educator. Dedicated to pedagogical excellence, she serves as the Director of the Arts and Architecture Honors Program at her institution. A two-time NEA awardee, Sarkar dedicates her creative and scholarly practice to feminist and queer research and pedagogy. She is the founder and manager of “South Asian Dance Intersections,” a journal dedicated to South Asian dance studies. Through her “Dance and Community Research Institute,” she employs entrepreneurial measures to build community across practitioners and scholars. Her productions and dance talks were featured in festivals ‘Nritya-Darpan,’ ‘Erasing Borders,’ ‘American College Dance Association Conference,’ ‘Dance Studies Association,’ ‘World Dance Alliance,’ and ‘Odissi International.’ Sarkar’s research foci are Practice-as-Research, religious studies, digital humanities, choreographic research, Indic philosophy, and queer theory. Her monograph Dance, Technology, Social Justice with McFarland Publishers presents a critical theoretical take on dance technique as a technology of social justice. Her book project Shaping S-Curves is currently under review by the University of North Carolina Press. She serves on the board of the American College Dance Association and Odissi Alliance of North America.
Shilpanatanam is organized in partnership with the Everson Museum of Art and is generously co-sponsored by Falk College, the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Visual and Performing Arts, School of Education, Hendricks Chapel, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Code^Shift (Newhouse), Syracuse University Humanities Center, Syracuse University Art Museum, Renée Crown University Honors Program, Premodern Global Studies, Art and Music Histories, Religion, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Goldring Arts Journalism and Communications (Newhouse).