Like most Indian dance pieces, the Bharata Natyam tells a story. Aniruddhan Vasudevan, who is gay and one of the dancers performing the classical Indian piece during Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company's 6th Annual Fall Festival of Indian Dance at the Lincoln Theatre next weekend, says it's a special part of the show because of its history.
(Photo by Lunge Alapadma)
''Bharata Natyam is the 20th century reinventing of a really old dance style that was practiced in the palaces of the kings and temples of southern India,'' he says.
''British colonialists banned dancing in temples, because they saw it as generating into prostitution. So there was a huge movement against dancing in temples and it was abolished. After which, a few people who wanted to revive the art form brought it to the stage. That is the version we all perform now.''
A native of Chennai, India, the 27-year-old Vasudevan describes the piece as ''rhythmic and mathematical'' dance segments glued together by a narrative. It's one of the many components of the fall festival, this year with a theme based on Karna from the Indian epic of Hindu ideology, the Mahabharata.
Vasudevan began dancing at the age of 6, after his parents discovered that he had an interest in music. ''They saw me drumming on the dinner table," he says, "so they took me to this music and dance school where they taught drums, string instruments, dance.... I saw a dance there and I chose to learn that instead.''
Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company's 6th Annual Fall Festival of Indian Dance takes place on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24, at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Tickets are $25-$35. Visit www.dakshina.org or call 202-328-6000.