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Indian Dance Performance Benefits People with Downsyndrome
A magical evening of dance that showcased a message of unity among mankind
The program featured solo dance pieces choreographed by Uma Suresh, artistic director of Muvements Media & Arts and Natya Priya Dance Academy, and performed by Priya Narthakii, the creative director and lead dancer. In her five avant-garde solo dance pieces, Narthakii brought to life universal mythical creatures as well as those from India, Arabia, Thailand and Japan to convey the message of unity among mankind.
The program also featured percussionist Sumanth Suresh, who has Down syndrome, and AcroYoga by guest artists Adam Braun and Wendy Dahl. The enthusiastic audience included people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds as well as several with Down syndrome.
The first number, “Ganeshanjali”
The second act, “Synergy to the Sound of the Native American Flute” done in AcroYoga style, which combining Thai massage, yoga and acrobatics, provided an apt transition. Braun and Dahl were both athletic and graceful, as they playfully merged in harmony of body, mind and soul.
The third act, opened with the storytelling style and voice of the Native American Haida tribe. The high-definition movie animation transported the audience to the coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest. The first piece summoned Naga – the half-snake, half- human Creature Spirit from India. With the night sound of the Earth’s insects, Narthakii appeared clad in green with ornamental golden snakes and performed entirely on her knees to create the feeling of the slithering snake. Then, as Phoenix, the firebird from Arabia, the masked Narthakii, her large wings whirling with shimmering red and gold, underwent the process of death and rebirth. Garuda, the half- man, half-eagle from Thailand, took flight to choreography inspired by yoga to the sound of wind, thunder and rain. Next, as Baku, the dream eater from Japan, Narthakii portrayed the battle, set to traditional Taiko drumming, to vanquish the evil spirits within the watery subconscious. The finale captured the universal blossoming of souls through the unfurling of a single omni-petaled flower. In this way, the five basic elements of the Hindu universe, culminating in ether, were creatively incorporated into the Native American totem pole, itself transformed into the mystical spine of the yogi in meditation.
Jack Ford, a sponsor who has Down syndrome, was the first to give Narthakii a hug and declare, “I loved it!” Larry and Darlene Neumann, prominent local story- tellers said, “The facial expressions, the foot movement, the graceful gestures and the costumes made for a magnificent experience.”
Braun, of the Total Body Yoga studio in Mundelein, and Dahl, who began teaching AcroYoga about six years ago, have been practicing yoga for a combined total of 25 years. This was their first formal performance. “AcroYoga is fed by community, and the population only grows through diversity. We greatly enjoy merging with other traditions because our collaborations unify the global community through practice, peace, acceptance, support and loving kindness,” said Dahl. “I found the depth of expression and symbolism that flowed through Priya’s dancing to be enlightening and inspiring! Priya and Uma were a pleasure to work with and I am very excited to work with them again in the future,” Braun added.