If Odissi dance is celebrated for its sculptural and curvilinear poise, a codified sensuousness that traces its origins to the temple dances of Orissa in eastern India, Kathakali, from the southwestern state of Kerala, is known for its fantastic theatricality percussive productions with elaborate headdresses and makeup that go all night. Dey offers up the spirit of the traditional "total theater" experience dance, music, spoken word but dispenses with the more ritual costuming and face painting; and in this case, the evening lasts just two hours.
Chitrangada relates the compelling story of a warrior princess of the same name, who fights to save her kingdom at the same time she longs to be accepted for who she is by her lover, Arjun. According to Dey, the work is based on "this idea of our search for our true self, and having the courage to challenge the gender-based expectations of the society." Dey's adaptation is set to music and integrates area teenagers who have trained with her.
In Karna and Kunti, Tagore's poignant libretto is translated into English dialogue by the dancer-actors throughout the piece and heightened with classical Hindustani music. The tale revolves around the meeting between an abandoned child and his birth mother.
[Review published September 2006]