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

Natya Dance Theatre 

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If you missed Lookingglass's Sita Ram, whose sold-out run ended last weekend, you might try Natya Dance Theatre's new Margam: The Sacred Path. Far more traditional, it celebrates the pop musical's origins: bharata natyam, a classical Indian form that relates Hindu stories through the poses and gestures codified in a 2,000-year-old text, the Natya-sastra. Still, purists might object to Margam. Artistic director Hema Rajagopalan aims to balance tradition and innovation by using the customary costumes, movements, musical accompaniment, and narratives--12th- and 18th-century poetry sung live--but adds English translations in voice-over. That way she can keep the original languages, Sanskrit and Tamil, but make the stories accessible. The piece depicts three kinds of love--maternal, devotional, and romantic--but the goal is to show what Rajagopalan calls the "pure love" underlying them, which "gives us joy." Associate artistic director Krithika Rajagopalan, Hema's daughter, did some of the choreography. Sat 4/8, 7:30 PM, and Sun 4/9, 2 PM, Harold Washington Library Center, auditorium, 400 S. State, 312-212-1240, $15-$25. The company also performs "Out of India" (see listing) at the Art Institute on Sat 4/8.

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