Krishna on 2nd Avenue

I’m not a big fan of dance. I don’t get it. I’ve attended numerous performances over the years—everything from traditional ballet to modern—and it all looks like a lot of people with 0% body fat imitating dying poultry. But there’s something about Indian dance that shakes me to my core. I meditate (poorly). Perhaps therein lies the connective tissue.

Legendary Lower East Side performance space La Mama is jam-packed this week with performances from Drive East, the Indian music and dance festival. It’s an intimate black box theater that, while lacking in amenities, is ideal for dissolving the space between performer and audience. The caliber and athleticism of the dancers—Kalanidhi Dance—is extraordinary.

This dance, Alokaye Shri Balakrishnan, tells the story of Krishna, who brings his cows to the river to drink. They all die because the water has been poisoned by the serpent Kaaliya. Krishna hunts the bastard down, taunts him and a fierce battle ensues.

Synergy blends elements of traditional and contemporary dance and music. The video is relatively brief because I accidentally touched the off button. Hold your applause.

The biggest surprise is how percussive the performances are. Being in such a small space, you hear the fleet slapping the stage and the bells on their ankles. It’s exhausting to watch. I had to nap on the way home.


32 thoughts on “Krishna on 2nd Avenue

    • Up close and personal makes a big difference with this stuff. Hell—with anything, really! Haven’t seen The Mahabharata but it’s now on my list. Thanks for the tip.

  1. It is interesting about Dance….This is not my cup of tea….But it obviously is a lot of peoples, including you….! The old saying..”That’s what makes Horse Racing”, comes to mind…..
    It’s great that La Mama is still going strong…!

    • Aside from what you see above, there’s not a lot of dance I care for. I suppose I don’t mind The Nutcracker, but only as a holiday garnishment. It’s not something I’d see in August, given the chance.

      2nd Av. and 4th St. has been renamed Ellen Stewart Corner!

      • As a young person we went to The Ballet, a lot and I loved it—and continued that Love Affair way into my mature years…Have you ever seen any of Matthew Bourne’s work? Truly Exciting!!! His ?”Swan Lake” was deeply deeply moving….!

        I remember the first time I saw Flamenco, close up—Someone I knew was performing, actually…It was Stunning….And so very Sexy!

        What a wonderful tribute to Ellen Stewart, and so deserving, too! I didn’t know that—That is just terrific! .

  2. They have zero body fat because they can’t afford to carry any dead weight – it’s all got to be muscles. Those Indian dancing girls must be pretty firm around the thighs and tush. Did you get a chance to peek?

    • I didn’t get any closer than what you see here. I dated a dancer once and, let me tell you, brother, there’s definitely a benefit that will go undiscussed.

  3. Many psychological theories have been used in the context of the arts and theories about the nature of understanding the aesthetics associated with dance. Me… I truly believe that it is nothing more than a primal instinct for the female of the species to attract a mate while thrashing about all of their important wobbly bits simultaneously. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Long may it last though, eh?

    • Hello there, you old rattlesnake. I am in 100% agreement. It’s all very primal. I’ll sit in Central Park eating my noontime sandwich and watch as a male pigeon dances in front of a female pigeon. She, feigning disinterest, turns away. He hurries to reposition himself in front of her. Same as it ever was, species to species.

      Nice to see you typing again.

    • There you are. Let me update my feeder.

      Tell me, my friend, have you ever danced with the Chef in the pale moonlight?

    • My Bride constantly tells me to not bite my lower lip when I dance. The White Man’s Burden. (The lip biting. Not My Bride.)

  4. all dance is primal, and it is all biologically driven. i’ve not been one to seek out opportunities to *watch* dance, but you can’t keep me down when there is a chance to *do* dance… watching the pros is inspiring, though. the sheer athleticism required to make the body parts perform with such precision is admirable…

    • Am I silly to think that dancing touches off something in women far more than men? Is that just reducing us all to a cheap stereotype or is there something to that? As I said, I don’t “get” a lot of professional dance, but the examples I posted here were pretty impressive. In person, there was more impact.

  5. I have been to see the ballet a couple of times… and have seen the one with the dying poultry… I was a little bit put off by the thudding feet element…. after awhile it felt a bit cheesy.
    I will stick to Strictly Come Dancing.

    • Have you ever seen anyone dancing en pointe? It’s look painful. I think it’s supposed to be beautiful but it kind of turns my stomach a bit. It’s hard to believe the tradition lives on.

  6. I have told my son he needs to learn how to dance, as I think it’s one of those things a well-rounded person needs to know—I am speaking of dancing, as in couples dancing. I danced with my dad from the time I was young, and can cut quite a rug now. 😉

    • He SHOULD know how to dance! Girls love it. Tell him not to bite his lower lip when he dances. That’s my problem. I taught my girls how to dance a simple box step. They stood on my feet. That sort of thing. Very sweet.

  7. I love dancing, and will soon be doing a whole weekend of it with Trina. I’m never happier than when I’m on a dancefloor. The mix of flirting and the sheer pleasure in one’s own body, as well as being surrounded by attractive women doing the same, to music you all love… I can’t wait now!

    • I don’t mind cutting the rug myself. My Bride and I used to take swing dance lessons when we were still living in the city and childless. But for the most part, I find sitting in a theater watching a dance performance kind of incomprehensible, the stuff above being the exception.

  8. Your first dance as a husband was one of the best I have every seen. Don’t under-estimate yourself I was and still am in AWE.

    • Mmmmm that’s nice but it was okay. I don’t mind dancing so very much. What I try never to do anymore is sit in a theater and watch other people dance. That just doesn’t work for me.

  9. They give a lie to the adage – a lady always keeps her knees together . Nothing could be more elegant than those dancers.
    The best part of Slumdog Millionaire – to me – was at the end of the film when the dancers let rip. Glorious!

    • They were beautiful to behold. Young and full of energy and grace. There were four dances (I think) and the performance was a little over an hour long. How do they do it?

      Jai Ho! I love it, too.

    • I try to keep it fresh.

      I’ll try an occasional performance of The Nutcracker around the holidays but I think dance is not on my menu anymore. I tried!

  10. Had occasion to watch Indian dance at a Krishna festival many years ago in Venice (CA). Started with the little kids, 5 and 6 and very endearing. They also explained some of the movements, which made watching more interesting. Also fun to watch the progression in ability as the performers got to be teens and adults. [and this wasn’t a professional troupe]
    Hurrah for dancers of all stripes and abilities (says one who did ballet a loooong time ago)

    • Before each dance that evening, a detail explanation was provided about what the dance represented. Most were ancient stories. The dancers displayed various poses that were benchmarks in the plot. It was all very helpful to a novice like myself.

  11. I dig it, Mark. In this movie review gig, I went to see a Desi-language English subtitle movie because I wanted to see true Bollywood, and I loved the country setting. And the India scenes in ‘Million Dollar Arm’ were my favorite parts. Something about it, I agree with you. Cool.

    • If you’re looking for another, English Vinglish is an excellent Desi film. It takes place in NYC/NJ. Cultural differences between generations, etc. It’s not a song/dance extravaganza, though. Those tend to be the most fun ones.

      • The one I saw was plot/music, breaking out in song and dance like our classic oldies, and I loved it. I’ll look for ‘English Vinglish.’ I like the sound of the plot. Thanks, Mark.

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