Can the dominant traits of men and women survive together in perfect harmony?
Well, according to an ancient Indian legend, the answer is yes. And by the way Vempati Chinna Satyam's dance troupe performed "Ardha Nariswaram," it was easy to believe."Ardha Nariswaram," retold the legend of how the Lord Shiva - a powerful god of India - and his consort, Gowri, become one being, thus finding harmony.
Forty dancers with their brightly colored costumes and nimble-footedness, brought the winding tale of how Shiva tamed the river goddess Ganga and, in turn, helped many beings find their way to heaven.
The work was danced in the tradition of classical Indian ballet called kuchipudi, a form of dance drama that reaches back to the third century (B.C.). Satyam, who has become one of the world's most renown kuchipudi expert, choreographed the performance which ran nearly two hours.
Colorful, traditional costumes and simple, yet meaningful sets provided the background as the dancers stamped, twirled and lunged across the stage.
The manly Shiva strutted proudly and displayed a strong presence throughout his variations. Gowri was graceful, delicate at times and tough when it came to voicing (or dancing) her opinions.
When both characteristics melded into one (symbolized by a purple veil that symbolically divided Shiva in half), the lord twisted, turned and flayed about the stage. The action was quaint and well executed as each turn unveiled either the feminine or masculine characteristic of the morphed being.
The group variations were usually precise and on the point, although there were times toward the end of a segment where some frayed ends would get loose.
However, the dancing followed the syncopated and sometimes hypnotic music that was played live.
Speaking of the musicians, the sitar, tabla, finger cymbals and other traditional Indian instruments were played by Satyam and his small group of musicians as the dancing took place on the stage.
The Marriott Center was an ideal stage for the performance, although the auditorium did get a little warm. But the sightlines and acoustics carried the performance well.
A couple of times the audience was so caught up in the lilting and mesmerizing musical strains that there was a dreamy feeling in the air. And by a certain standpoint, some audience members said the performance was like watching a lucid hallucination.
At any rate, Utah got a nice, bite-sized chunk of Indian culture through the magic and universal language of dance.