Aananda – The Dance of Joy

Globe Theatre, 104 London St, Dunedin

18/03/2012 - 18/03/2012

Dunedin Fringe 2012

Production Details

“To me, to dance is to be, to dance is to be happy, for I dance with joy (Aananda) to reach that permanent state of bliss (Aananda), I dance in frenzied action to seek that stillness of the soul.” – Dr Ananda Shankar Jayant, Renowned scholar, dancer

Travel back in time and revel in the glory of one of the most ancient dance forms ever. Prepare to be enthralled by riveting classical Indian dance at its very best culminating into a visual and musical treat. Prepare for Aananda- The Dance of Joy.

Through the beautiful Indian Classical dance forms of Bharatanatyam and Kuchupudi, Swaroopa Unni takes her audiences on a mystical and spellbinding journey back into the life and times of Lord Krishna.  Explore the technical nuances and powerful enactment of ancient Hindu mythological stories and journey along with her in discovering Aananda – The Dance of Joy. Beginning her recital by paying respects to cosmic dancer, Lord Shiva and the ever-benevolent Lord Ganesha, the entire repertoire has been choreographed beautifully keeping the culturally vibrant Dunedin in mind.

Performing for the first time in Dunedin, Swaroopa is considered to be one of the emerging young artists from India and is known for her fresh approach to dance. By taking the rich traditions of Bharatanatyam classical dance and adding her own unique flair in choreography, her dance is empathetic, fresh and inimitable. Performing professionally for the past twenty years and a winner of several school and University level dance competitions, Swaroopa brings to her dance a rare sense of devotion and dedication, which leaves the audience with a sense of spiritual fulfillment. Apart from her interest in choreography, Swaroopa also shares her knowledge about the beautiful art form, Bharathanatyam, through her dance class Natyaloka in Dunedin.

1 hour

Singular artistry

Review by Sharon Matthews 20th Mar 2012

Aananda -The Dance of Joy, choreographed and performed by Swaroopa Unni, is my pick of the Dunedin Fringe Festival 2012 so far. In spite of a torrential downpour, the house was packed (in fact overflowing!), with an enthusiastic mix of dance aficionados and members of the local Indian community.

Swaroopa Unni has been a professional dance artist in India for the past twenty years, but this is her first – and hopefully not the last  –  production for a Dunedin audience. Aananda – The Dance of Joy is a moment out of time, classical Indian dance at its very best, lyrical, evocative and visually and musically expressive. Unni takes and transforms the rich traditions of Bharatanatyam and Kuchupudi classical dance forms with her own distinctive choreography, revealing the fresh contemporariness of an ancient art form.

This piece, a solo performance by Swaroopa Unni, is a combination of seven individual works based in ancient Hindu mythology. The dances begin with Vandanam, a dance in praise of Lord Ganesha  –  the god with an elephant head – and end with Mangalam, a ‘salutation to the universe, the elements, the guru and the audience.’ It is a mystical and spellbinding journey performed with considerable technical skill. A stand-out was Tarangamin, in which the dancer balances on a brass plate miming to a song from the Krishna Leela Tarangini, a text which recounts events from the life of Lord Krishna.

Understanding, perhaps, that she is dealing with a mostly uninitiated audience, Unni’s programme notes clearly explain the important elements of her narrative progression from darkness and absence into joy. However, such is the depth of her empathetic interaction with the audience that these notes are merely an amplification of our instinctive understanding of the events she portrays. Unni is a very engaging performer with a vivid palate of expressive gestures that paint a canvas of life and beyond. Moreover, she brings to her choreography a feeling of joy, an everyday humour and a rare sense of devotion and dedication which seems to touch an inner core of understanding shared between the dancer and the viewer.

I regret the limited season of this production  – one night only!  I would urge all and sundry to experience this production. I look forward to the experience of future performances from this singular artist.



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