Anjal Chande gets small | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Anjal Chande gets small 

A classically trained dancer stretches the limits of bharatanatyam with her "mini scale" concert series.

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Anjal Chande

Anjal Chande

Samir Mirza

Anjal Chande is a study in contrasts. Trained in classical Indian dance, she's also improvised with jazz musicians and used a traditional hand gesture to mime brushing her teeth. Yet she doesn't see her work as a one-woman campaign to haul bharatanatyam into the American mainstream. "I just want to have my own voice," she says, "and explore my interests." A dedicated DIYer, Chande often accompanies herself with her own recorded singing, chanting, and texts. This year she's "self-producing on a mini scale" by presenting a monthly series of 45-minute solo concerts called "Soham In-Studio," after her teaching and performance venue in Ukrainian Village, Soham Dance Space.

This month's program includes She Cannot, in which Chande embodies both an ambitious young artist and the teacher who insists that her aspirations are impossible. A fluid, natural practitioner of abhinaya, or stylized facial expression, Chande allows shadows of vexation, despair, and determination to pass swiftly over her face. In A Cappella Thillana, she streamlines bharatanatyam movement while retaining its contrast between light-footed leaps and crisp stamping; the work is set to a piece of percussive vocalizing Chande composed with Arjun Venkataswamy and recorded with Chai-Town a Cappella. A dance about the Hindu god Shiva—tentatively titled The Abode of Solitude—is "more philosophical," Chande says, "which is where my brain likes to go."

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