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'Journey' a modern mix of dance, poetry and music

Esther Robards-Forbes
Anuradha Naimpally and Chandra Washington rehearse a collaborative piece for the upcoming show “Journey: Tradition to Innovation.”

This weekend, the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center will play host to a dance performance that blends traditional Indian dance style, contemporary dance, poetry and live music in a moving display.

"Journey: Tradition to Innovation" is the brainchild of Austin Dance India's artistic director Anuradha Naimpally, who has turned 25 years of performance experience to the task of creating a show that highlights the best elements of traditional Bharata Natyam dance of southern India and pushes the boundaries to give it a modern edge.

"In front of their eyes, the audience can see it deconstructed and transforming and moving into this modern realm," Naimpally said.

The first part of the performance, Naimpally said, is strictly traditional Indian dance. With each new performance piece, dancers and musicians will incorporate more and more modern elements and bring influences from other traditions, like African dance.

Chandra Washington, a local poet and dancer, will be performing her piece, "Nature is Winning," which incorporates her dance movements, poetry and the sounds of the bayou.

"I think when someone is steeped in a tradition and someone else is steeped in another tradition and you come together, there's a depth that happens, an understanding that happens, and something beautiful and meaningful can come from that," Naimpally said.

Naimpally, who was nominated for Best Dancer in 2011 by the Austin Area Critics Table, has also brought musicians Naga Valli, Soumya Ashok, Ratan Kumar, V Sriram and Purna Bajekal together for the performance to add live musical accompaniment, a rare treat, she said.

"Even ancient things have a value in our modern day," Naimpally said. "They can be very relevant if we give them a chance and delve deep into them and study them, we can make it relevant to day-to-day life. The universality and timelessness of a tradition is what makes it great."

Esther Robards-Forbes is a reporter for the Westlake Picayune.

'Journey: Tradition to Innovation'