Natya Dance Theatre | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Natya Dance Theatre 

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Classical Indian dance is laden with paradox. Bejewelled performers in elaborate costumes are supposed to convey the immateriality of the material world. Actresses perfect the communication of emotion in order to tell stories that advocate transcending our passions. In Dhrasta ("The Seer"), dancer-choreographer Krithika Rajagopalan aims to capture the "formless being" that is the basis of happiness. But inevitably the dance has a structure--it's divided into three parts--and it relies on well-known forms: bharatanatyam, yoga, and modern dance. Premiered in New York in June as a trio, it's now a quintet featuring Rajagopalan, whose facial expressions are exquisite; indeed, the whole piece displays a panoply of emotions. Dhrasta has a beautifully evocative finish, and an ingenious mandala of light projected on the floor focuses attention and suggests the eternal in a way that's difficult for living, breathing dancers to do. Also on the program is Ahimsa, jointly choreographed by Rajagopalan and her mother, Hema Rajagopalan. Premiered in 1999, it explores nonviolence through scenes of violence against women, children, and the downtrodden and is being revived in commemoration of September 11. Harold Washington Library Center, auditorium, 400 S. State, 312-942-1404. Friday, September 13, 8 PM. $15-$20.

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