FolkFire Articles

May/June 1997

  • East Indian Performance at Wild Oats
  • Taproom Offers Facility to Community
  • East Indian Dance: The Descriptive Dance
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  • East Indian Performance at Wild Oats:
    Wild Oats natural food store, in conjunction with FolkFire, is presenting another of our local companies in a performance at their Community Room on Friday, June 13. Shruti Bhatt of the Arts Academy of Bharata (see listing) will present a fascinating evening of East Indian dance from 7-9 pm. This will be both a performance and lecture. Admission is $5, which includes free snacks and beverages. This is a benefit for AAHBA, FolkFire and Wild Oats' community programs. Ms. Bhatt has been helpful in the past with the coordination of FolkFire's First Night program on New Year's Eve. Wild Oats, at 8823 Ladue Rd., one block east of I-170, is once again supporting the St. Louis dance community by creating these events to showcase our groups.
    Come and experience something new and wonderful!
    Taproom Offers Facility to Community
    by Andrew Limanni
    FolkFire is proud to announce an opportunity that will benefit the entire St. Louis dance and music community. The St. Louis Brewery and Taproom has offered us the use of their upstairs room (at their downtown location) to all groups affiliated with FolkFire! The room holds 250 people, has a wooden dance floor, a stage with a sound system, and good ventilation, heating and air conditioning. There are restrooms and bars both upstairs and down and a restaurant on the ground floor, for enjoying before or after your event. The area is safe and has a lighted and guarded parking lot. It is very convenient and easy to get to; right off of Hwy. 40/64 at 2100 Locust St., two blocks north of Union Station.
    Here's the deal: The room is available Sunday through Thursday nights at a cost of $10 per night, sound system included (each group will have to run the system themselves). You may then charge any fee you like for your events. The Taproom will keep the bar open upstairs and hopes to recoup their expenses by doing this; so they have requested that we screen out any events that will not generate at least 35 people in the room. The Taproom will still continue to book the room themselves for Friday and Saturday nights.
    Groups will reserve the space through FolkFire by calling 776-3655 (disconnected 3/2001) (PRO-FOLK) and leaving a message on the Taproom Registration Channel (ext 7). They want us to do this so that they don't get inundated with calls from the many different music and dance groups that we represent. We will then call you back and let you know if the dates you want are available (one time, or regularly scheduled events, as in 2nd and 4th Tuesdays, for example).
    In the past we have offered communication and centralized marketing services to our groups (the newsletter, the voice channel system and the Website), as well as put on a few special events (First Night, the Birthday Bash), but now we can offer St. Louis something that many groups have looked for in vain for years -- a location. Let's take advantage of this momentous event to get a great room with a wooden floor at a bargain price and support the Taproom, an institution that has been supporting dancers and musicians in St. Louis for years. Call us to book or with any questions.
    East Indian Dance: The Descriptive Dance
    by Nartana Prem
    Classical dance from Southern India--known as Bharata Natyam--presents a unique spectacle for the viewer because it depicts myths drawn from ancient Indian texts--as well as from the collective Indian imagination--through the usage of expressive hand movements and striking foot patterns set to voiced rhythmic syllables. The abstract gestures render the beloved stories alive, so that facial expressions are imperative, unlike in most other forms of dance.
    Intricate costumes are also essential to the dance. Saris and specially made dance-dresses swirl in a riot of colors: magenta, red, white laced with gold, blue threaded through with silver, forest green, rose pink... the variations of the colors mesmerize, as they are literally endless. Jewelry also adorns the dancers--from delicate gold necklaces to colorful bangles, to ornaments, such as a miniature sun and moon, specially crafted to be worn on a dancer's hair.
    It is said the dance is nearly 2000 years old, and originated in the heavens when Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, taught Sage Bharata, a celestial ascetic, the sacred art form. Sage Bharata, in turn, laid down the rules for the dance in a text called the Natya Shastra (Book of Dance). The dances were originally performed in temples, but are now regularly performed in auditoriums and theatres around the world.
    In spite of their religious origins, the dances prove surprisingly flexible, willing to soften the rigors of tradition to accommodate modern sensibilities. Thus the dance remains very much a living force instead of being hidden away in history. Indian dance has been performed in combination with flamenco, for example, or has portrayed themes still important in the present day, such as the danger of too much gossip!
    Indian dance was introduced to the St. Louis area by Mrs. Asha Premachandra, who specializes in Bharata Natyam, but also teaches Kuchipudi, another form of classical dance, as well as a variety of folk dances. She has been teaching for over twenty years, and has had students from India, the U. S. and Canada, among other countries. She has always been innovative in her presentations of the dance, from using creatively designed costumes to artistic manipulations of lighting to interpreting classical pieces with unique twists. However, she always remains true to the classic core of the dance, ensuring that dance does not lose its roots as it seeks to touch the imagination of modern-day viewers.
    See Dances of India Listing.
    This page was composed by A Daniel Klarmann
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