Darpana: reflections

Little Theatre, Library Bldg, 2 Queens Drive, Lower Hutt

01/07/2023 - 02/07/2023

Production Details

Vivek Kinra

Mudra Dance Company

Mudra Dance Company presents Darpana: Reflections
An exuberant programme of classical Indian dance

Choreographed and produced by Vivek Kinra, and performed by the Mudra Dance Company.
Darpana will be a memorable performance of a retrospective collection of dance works spanning over 25 years, choreographed by internationally renowned Wellington-based director and choreographer Vivek Kinra.

Kinra will blend the history of Mudra through the reworking of his earlier pieces, ensuring that the current audience can experience the change over time whilst honouring the beginnings of the Mudra Dance Company. The audience will have the opportunity to revisit their favourite pieces while experiencing some works for the first time.

Dance writer and critic Jennifer Shennan comments on this new work as follows:
“Mudra’s performance season for July 2023, Darpana – Reflections, is an impressive undertaking –
to offer a programme of retrospective reference across so many of Vivek Kinra’s choreographies over past years. That all these works can be reconstructed and staged again is testament to the serious and responsible commitment of Mudra to offer continuing and lasting contribution to Wellington audiences comprising the Indian as well as the wider community”.

The dances have been selected to highlight specific periods and outstanding pieces, which over time show the evolution of Kinra and The Mudra Dance Company:

Thodaya Mangalam – Original Work from Vaishnavam 1995
This dance praises the supreme Lord Mahavishnu, whose compassion runs as wide as the ocean. He is praised in his various forms, primarily as Shri Rama and Shri Krishna.

Maragada Manimaya Chela – Original Work from Krishna: The Divine Lover 2001
In his most beautiful and divine form, Lord Krishna is depicted wearing golden robes and holding a flute in his hands. The devotees humbly request Lord Krishna to reside in their hearts.

Ranjani Mala – Original Work from Shakti: The Universal Energy 2019
A Depiction of primordial mother Goddess Shakti in her various forms and moods, from sublime Saraswati to fierce Goddess Kali.

Subrahmanya Kautuvam – Original Work from Subrahmanyam 1999
This dance piece consists of short verses in praise of Lord Subrahmanyam. The dancers describe the beauty and valour of Lord Subrahmanyam and request the Lord to shower his divine grace upon them.

Ennenna Vilaiyadalamma – Original Work from Kartikeya 2017
In this Keertanam, dancers joyously describe a variety of divine play of Lord Subrahmanyam.

Kanchadalayatakshi Kamakshi – Original Work from Chakra 2004
This song is devoted to Goddess Kamakshi of Kanchi, the most beautiful Goddess with eyes like lotus petals.

Amritavarshini – Rain of Nectar – Original Work from Shakti: The Universal Energy 2019
Oh, mother Goddess! Grant us knowledge, happiness and bliss in the form of heavy rains.

Thillana – Original Work from Subrahmanyam 1999
A Robust grand finale, full of vigorous foot work and sculpturesque body movements

Mudra Dance Company will once again excite audiences with fast-moving dramatic dance pieces that will showcase the incredible talent of this highly regarded dance company. Characterised by exotic beauty and charm, Mudra Dance Company is a visual feast of brilliant sari colours, traditional headdresses of braids and flowers, and the sparkle of gorgeous jewellery. Darpana promises to be a powerful display of motion, colour, music, mime, and rhythm.

Kinra is acclaimed both nationally and internationally as an exemplary exponent of Bharata Natyam. The dances of Darpana highlight Kinra’s choreography which combines innovative and traditional elements of this classical dance form.

Artists Mudra Dance Company
Venue Lower Hutt Little Theatre
July 1 Saturday 7:30pm
July 2 Sunday 4:00pm
Duration 2 hours including an intermission of 20 minutes

Tickets $20 – $30 Available from Eventfinda: 0800289849

Contact Mark Graham 021 550245 (Publicist, Mudra Dance Company)
mudra@xtra.co.nz www.mudra.co.nz

Vivek Kinra
Vivek Kinra is an internationally renowned dancer, choreographer and teacher of the Indian classical dance form of Bharata Natyam and he has performed successfully in India, Russia, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. He has an ecstatic quality of passion and precision in his dance, which makes him memorable and sets him apart.
He holds the prestigious post-graduate Diploma from Kalakshetra, the renowned academy for the study of this dance style in Chennai, India. He is also a former faculty member of Kalakshetra. This academy was established by the great exponent of Bharata-Natyam, the late Rukmini Devi, who played a pioneering role in the revival of this ancient dance form. As an artist and a person, Kinra feels deeply indebted to Rukmini Devi and his teachers at Kalakshetra. From a young age he began training with Guru Sridharan Nayar. Later, he studied with several outstanding exponents of Bharata-Natyam at Kalakshetra and he was awarded a Government of India scholarship for advanced studies there. Kinra participated in many of Kalakshetra’s famous dance-dramas and was acclaimed for his various lead roles.
Since early 1990, Kinra has been teaching in Wellington, New Zealand. In early 1992, he established the New Zealand Academy of Bharata-Natyam and is its Artistic Director. The Academy is flourishing with a large number of keen students and is the foremost institution in New Zealand for training in this dance style. It also plays an important role in cultural awareness and identity in New Zealand’s ever growing multicultural society.
Kinra has given lecture-demonstrations to various organisations, including the New Zealand School of Dance, the New Zealand Drama School, Victoria University of Wellington Music Department and the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
During his illustrious dance career in New Zealand, which has spanned over thirty two years, Kinra has created numerous new thematic dance productions with a blend of traditional and innovative concepts, which he has performed with the dancers of the Mudra Dance Company. His performances have consistently been received with rave reviews and large audiences. He was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in 2010 Queen’s Birthday honours for his huge contribution to the New Zealand dance scene. dance scene. In February 2015 he received the Absolutely Positively Wellingtonian Award for his outstanding contribution to Wellington through his work with Indian classical dance. Kinra retired from performing in 2015 but continues to teach, choreograph, direct and produce for Mudra Dance Company and Mudra Dance Academy.
Kinra’s work has also been recognised and supported by Creative New Zealand including grants which have enabled him to return to India to choreograph new dance works. These have included the productions of Shiva the Cosmic Dancer, Ashta Nayika, Vaishnavam, Rasa: the Emotional Journey, Shiva Geeti Mala, Krishna: the Divine Lover, Utsav, Chakra, Angika, Shree Ram Katha, Incarnations, Anand: Joy in Motion, Bharatam, Shree Krishna Leela, Satvika, Samarpana – An offering through dance, Kartikeya,Shakti: The Universal Energy and Navarasa: Nine Emotions. Successfully obtaining a reputation for excellence through his performances, intensive courses, workshops, lectures and demonstrations both nationally and internationally, Vivek Kinra is undisputedly one of the leading exponents and a celebrated dancer of this rich and complex art form in New Zealand.
“After a time, excellence becomes increasingly difficult to write about, without resorting to familiar superlatives. Kinra presents such a problem.” -The Dominion, Wellington.

Mudra Dance Company
Mudra Dance Company is the premiere Indian Classical Dance Company in NZ.
Led by the dance luminary Vivek Kinra, this company uses the style of the Classical art form of Bharata Natyam as the mode of expression to create a spectacle of rhythm, colour, music and motion.
The company features the senior dancers trained at Kinra's Dance Academy.
Reflecting the whole of the diverse Indian community in its totality, the company's senior dancers have achieved high standards and have performed in numerous professional productions. The development of the younger dancers of Mudra dance Company will be achieved with them participating in this production.
The company presents Kinra's choreography which is a fine balance of tradition and innovation. Mudra Dance Company provides opportunities for these dancers to pursue dance expertise
“The ladies were gods; then mortals, ending the evening in the exuberant Tillana. Vivek and Mudra Dance Company have much to be proud.” Mona Williams DANZ Magazine

35 Dancers Main Dancers below

Varshini Suresh
Varshini Suresh was born in the United Arab Emirates and is of South Indian origin. She is a graduate of the Mudra Dance Academy. She was presented in her solo debut in 2010. She has performed with the Mudra Dance Company in the productions of Shree Ram Katha - 2006, Incarnations - 2008, Anand: Joy in Motion - 2009, Shree Krishna Leela – 2011, Satvika – 2013, Samarpana – An Offering through Dance – 2015, and Shakti: The Universal Energy – 2019. Varshini’s dancing is characterised by dynamic broad dance movements and captivating stage presence. She has been a lead dancer for Mudra Dance Company in various dance productions. Varshini has a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Commerce from Victoria University. Varshini works in Law in Wellington.
“The tiny but dynamic Varshini Suresh in Incarnations five to seven, stands out with her clean, strong movement and vivacious facial expressions.” Ann Hunt. The Dominion Post.

Banu Siva – Dancer
Banu Siva was born in New Zealand and is of Sri Lankan Tamil origin. She is a graduate of the Mudra Dance Academy. Banu started her dance training at the age of 5 in Brunei. She then continued her training in Auckland. After moving to Wellington in 2013, she joined the Mudra Dance Academy. She has performed with the Mudra Dance Company in the productions of Samarpana – An Offering through Dance – 2015, Kartikeya – 2017, Shakti: The Universal Energy – 2019 and Navarasa: Nine Emotions – 2021. She is a Dance Tutor at the Academy. Banu’s performance presence and technique allows her to hold the attention of the audience. She has been a lead dancer for Mudra Dance Company in recent productions. Banu is currently working at Opus International Consultants as a Structural Engineer.
“All three displayed excellent stamina and strong technique, with Siva showing particular energy and facial expressiveness.” Ann Hunt. The Dominion Post

Shrinidhi Bharadwaj - Dancer
Shrinidhi Bharadwaj was born in India and started learning Bharata Natyam at the age of 6. She was presented in her solo debut in 2014 in Chennai, India, and has since given many solo performances there. She learnt under the tutelage of some eminent teachers in South Indian, learning the same style taught by Vivek Kinra. She joined the Mudra Dance Academy in 2019. She performed major roles in the production of Shakti in 2019 and Navarasa: Nine Emotions in 2021. She is a Dance Tutor at the Academy. Strong technique, a perfect sense of rhythm and sculpturesque poses are the highlights of her dancing. She has completed her BA in Psychology and Sociology at Victoria University of Wellington. Currently she is working as an office administrator at Abseil Access Ltd.

Esther McCreadie - Dancer
Esther McCreadie was born in New Zealand and is of Irish/English origin. She is presently pursuing advanced level dance training at the Mudra Dance Academy. She has performed with the Mudra Dance Company in the productions of Samarpana – An Offering through Dance – 2015, Kartikeya – 2017, Shakti: The Universal Energy – 2019 and Navarasa: Nine Emotions – 2021. Esther dances with passion and has captivating stage personality which make her dancing a delight to watch. Esther owns and operates ‘Ninjaflower’, a piercing, and jewellery store in central Wellington.

Deepika Sundar - Dancer
Deepika Sundar was born in Chennai, India and is of South Indian origin. She migrated to Singapore in 1999 with her family, then to New Zealand in 2008. She is presently pursuing advanced level dance training at the Mudra Dance Academy. She has performed with the Mudra Dance Company in the productions of Shakti: The Universal Energy – 2019 and Navarasa: Nine Emotions – 2021. A perfect sense of rhythm, strong technique and charming facial expressions are highlights of Deepika’s dancing. Deepika has completed a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Information Systems from Victoria University of Wellington. She is currently working at DXC Technology as a Test Analyst.

Indian classical dance , Dance ,

2 Hours including an intermission of 20 minutes

A garden of earthly delights with celestial resonance,

Review by Jennifer Shennan 05th Jul 2023

Darpana is a retrospective program of excerpts from the past three decades of seasons choreographed by Vivek Kinra for his company, Mudra. It’s a garden of earthly delights with celestial resonance, story-telling laced with joyous cavorting. There are sudden flashes of fury whenever forces of evil are encountered. Furious stamping, piercing glares and dismissive gestures will rid us of them. Only the good survive, only the safe are free.

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Centralising Bharata Natyam in Aotearoa.

Review by Tupe Lualua 04th Jul 2023

Walking in to the warming aroma of fresh Samosa’s and beautiful hosts most radiant in their colourful Sari greeting us at the door was a welcomed retreat from the cold, grey, rainy Sunday afternoon weather outside.  It is a Mudra Dance Company performance and the culture draws you in upon arrival.  

The theatre is full with an audience in anticipation of Darpana Reflections, a retrospective collection of dances, directed and choreographed by the Artistic Director Vivek Kinra.   The lingering incense and coloured cyclorama draw us towards the performance stage. The cyclorama is coloured with shades of blue and pink, like the moment when sunset meets an emerging night sky.  I feel honoured to be sitting amongst the community of Mudra Dance fans, they are an educated audience.  

The programme notes are exquisite and the language of each synopsis is effortlessly poetic.  Imagery is hard to avoid and my imagination is very present.  

The Artistic Director sits casually amongst the audience and then makes his way to the stage to introduce each piece.  With the most sophisticated, thoughtful and complex movement, he physically embodies the stories of each deity and the journeys that they are about to embark on in each dance.  His attention to detail and refinement in every move is intriguing, entertaining and at times emotive, we are witnessing the craft of a master heritage Artist.  

Which was then adorned by the extraordinary dancers who came out with such vibrancy and commitment.  They were inviting and entertaining but also very stoic in their storytelling abilities.  

The level of athleticism and cultural knowledge required to carry out this performance is impressive to say the very least.   It would be amiss for me to not acknowledge the incredible dancers who have spent years on their craft and have become vessels for the deities that they portray.  The GODS walk amongst us.  

The first piece, THODAYA MANGALAM (1995), is where I started to visually acknowledge the heritage motifs.  A solid foundation of historic pillars that were laid down for the rest of the dances to emerge from.   In the second dance MARGADA MANIMAYACHELA (2001), there was a glow of rose lavender on each dancer’s skin.  Romantic and sensual, this dance also introduced two more mature and maternal figures to the ensemble.  The dancers are sprightly and embody the natural environments of the world that they portray.  RANJANI MALA (2019) is where the ensemble choreography started to be more dynamic, the way that each line transitioned and moved through different physical levels saw an evolution in the choreography and design since 1995. 

The lighting design was in conversation with the costumes, and very careful to not overtake each other, they glided throughout the show side by side, accompanying each other.  The sound system was a bit sharp during a couple of the dances but not enough to pull focus from the landscape of beauty that was laid in front of us.  

During the 20 minute intermission, I indulged in the $7 snack pack which consisted of 1 Boondi Lado, 1 Samosa and 1 Vada accompanied by the most delicious cup of Chai tea for $3.  $10 worth of warm, sweet and spicy refreshments during a dance show, what a treat! 

The second half of the show feels more filmic.  The music is emotional and epic, I could see this work being presented in larger scaled theatres around the globe.  We are greeted with the sound of traditional instruments, haunting chants and catchy rhythms.   The dancers have an excellent rapport with the audience which they maintain throughout the whole duration of the performance .  They are incredibly seasoned dancers, the choreography is Ancestral and complicated yet they make it look so effortless.  As a Siva Sāmoa practitioner, I have a deep respect for ensemble choreography and synchronicity.     It is obvious that these women have been training in these dances for years.   But far from being aloof, the individual persona and characteristics of each dancer and their personal expressions, came through so authentically.  They are happy, sad, timid, fierce, confident, raging, hopeless and powerful.  

I sat next to one of the father’s whose young daughter has just joined the Mudra Dance Academy.  He was in awe, filled with such joy and admiration, as it was the first time that he could see where his daughter’s passion for dance and dance training would lead her to.   It was heartwarming to see the current students cheer on the graduates and be inspired to “dance like them one day”.  

Thank you for sharing your culture and centralising Bharata Natyam in Aotearoa.  


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