Surati: Classical and Folk Indian Dance from New Jersey

[Female Speaker]
From the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. [Theodosia Austen]
I’m Theodosia Austen, the public events programmer for the American Folklife Center, and on behalf
of the entire staff I’d like to welcome you to our last Homegrown Concert in the Homegrown
2008 Series. I’m also pleased to note that in the audience
today we have members of the American Folklife Center’s board of trustees. They are distinguished citizens from around
the country who play a tremendous role in the work we do. So could the board members raise their hands? There they are. Thank you very much. [applause] It’s great to be able to have them here. As you may know, Coolidge has a very distinguished
career in terms of presenting all kinds of music, not just classical but also folk and
roots music. In 1938 Alan Lomax captured piano performances
and oral histories with the great jazz pioneer, Jelly Roll Morton, right here on this stage
in Coolidge. In recent years they reissued a CD on Grammy
— they were reissued and won a Grammy. Josh White and the Golden Gate Quartet also
played here as well as Mississippi John Hurt and other legendary figures in folk and roots
music. Because of all this we have wonderful recordings
of them here in the library, and this concert and all of our concerts are part of that effort
to record the artistry of traditional artists all over the country. It will also be Web cast, and we get a very
large audience in terms of hits looking at the concerts that we’ve done in the past,
so that’s a great thing. This series is part of the history, and it’s
recorded for the permanent collections of this center’s archives. So anyway, since it’s going to be preserved,
hopefully for hundreds of years, if you have a cell phone, turn it off, because that will
be preserved, too. So you can take care of that now. The Homegrown Series is a series of performances
featuring the very best of traditional music and dance from around the nation, and the
Folklife Center works collaboratively with the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center
to bring them to you. So these folks will be performing at the Kennedy
Center tonight if you want to check them again or let friends know that they’re going to
be there after you see this. We work with many talented and dedicated state
folk arts coordinators across the country. The state folklorists and other arts professionals
help us identify and bring to D.C. the most important and representative traditions from
around the country. Today we’re presenting a wonderful group of
Indian American musicians and dancers called Surati. There’s a large Indian community in New Jersey,
which is where Surati comes from. And now to tell you more about that and introduce
the performers, let me introduce the folklorist at the Down Jersey Folklife Center in Melville,
New Jersey, which is one of six regional folklife centers supported by the state of New Jersey,
so please welcome Iveta Pirgova. [ Applause ] [Iveta Pirgova]
Thank you very much, Thea, and thank you friends for coming in today. I really want to thank the American Folklife
Center and to Thea in particular for inviting us to come and give this concert today. Well, have in mind that the modern 20 groups
performing Indian classical dance and full dance is in New Jersey, and Surati’s defiantly
one of the best ones. I met the group when — began working on the
Indian project of which was part of our creative community connections, Serious, and in this
eight month project all devoted to the Indian traditions and culture, and in September we
had a beautiful festival of India. Well, it is very interesting thing — many,
many groups performing Indian classical dance, but most of them have chosen to work mostly
on the Bharatanatyam form of it which originated in the state of Tamil Nadu. Well I was looking for a group that would
have a variety of dances in their repertoire and this how I met Surati, because they do
perform several different classical forums as well as folk dances from various states
in India. Well, the Indian classical dance — I’m not
going to take up too much time to speak about that — but I just wanted to remind you that
most of the legends say that the Indian classical dance came directly from Gods. Well, one legend says that it was the Lord
Brahma who gave the dance through the fifth Veda, and there is a tax created based on
this Veda, which is called Natyashastra. And it keeps the instructions so every possible
detail that later on developed into the Indian classical dance, including footstep and head
movement and the eye movement and the stage setting and ornaments, and even the audience. So by the sixth century AD, most of the forms
of the Indian classical dance were already institutionalized and they were part of the
temple dances. At least the Bharatanatyam and the Odissi
forms that you will see today performed by the Surati group. So I’m really happy that you will see a program
which is a very nice combination of all the classical dance and the folk dances from several
different states and I hope you will enjoy this beautiful tradition of India. So for you I left outside these brochures
and you can see what kind of project it was and how Surati participated in these, and
you will see them in a kind of bigger context. Thank you so very much for coming today. [ Applause ] [Male Speaker]
Today Surativo First present a traditional odyssey item: Savari Pallavi. [ Music & Indian Singing ] [ Applause ] Now, let us watch the Surati dancers catch
the mood of a hilly plantation in Assam, and perform a lively dance picking tea leaves. [ Music & Indian Singing ] [ Applause ] Our musicians for this afternoon are Neurojay
Shroi [spelled phonetically]. [applause] Indridgit Roychradri [spelled phonetically] [applause] And Richie Carmashatagi [applause] They will now perform some traditional folk
tunes. From the Library of Congress in Washington
D.C. [ Music ] [ Applause ] [Female Speaker]
The religious festivals of India draw their genesis from various ancient scriptures. According to the legend of these scriptures,
there was a time many, many thousands of moons ago, when an evil creature took the guise
of half a demon and half a buffalo. A ferocious Mahishasura, and began to terrorize
the heavens, earth, and hell. The defeated and helpless gods eventually
turned to the divine agility of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahavidya. From the essence of these three supreme beings,
and of every other God and Goddess was conceived goddess Durga, the fierce mother protector. Un-vanquishable with ten hands and ten weapons,
each a unique and divine blessing. She battled the fierce buffalo demon. [ Music ] Vijaya Dashmi celebrates the defeat of Mahishasura
by goddess Durga, and devotees worship the Goddess as the divine mother who protects
her children from all evil. Hense, referring to her adoringly as Ma Durga. [ Music ] [ Applause ] The Dhunuchi dance is a dance of devotion
that is a pleasant and familiar sight at every alter and temple of West Bengal during the
festivies of the Durga Puja. Devotees fill the Dhunuchi and urban part
with fragrance smoking incense, which they offer to the mother in an agulatary [spelled
phonetically] dance accompanied by the enhancing beat of drums, symbols, and conch shells. [ Music ] [ Applause ] [ Music ] [ Applause ] Navratri is the festival of nine nights and
nine days in which all three different forms of the Devi are worshipped. It is a very well-celebrated festival throughout
India, and the popular Indian folkdances Garba Raas and Dandiya are often performed to mark
this festival. [ Music & Indian singing ] [ Applause ] [ Music ] [ Applause ] [Male Speaker]
Thillana is a brisk dance piece that typically concludes a traditional Barathnatayam dance
performance. It displays a virtuosity of the music by using
complex footwork and captivating poses of the dancer. [ Music & Indian singing ] [ Applause ] In this frenzied dance of destruction, Kali,
the black goddess of time and death, is often portrayed as standing on her husband, God
Shiva, who, in an effort to calm her down, is believed to have lain directly in her path. [ Music & Indian singing ] [ Applause ] [ Music ] [ Applause ] We now present Manipuri classical dance from
the northeastern state of Manipur in India. [ Music ] [ Applause ] [ Music ] [ Applause ] [Female Speaker]
The grand finale of this evening’s presentation
is a modern version of a much loved Digora song. While here in America, fall is the season
of colors, in India in the season of spring, Fagun, nature bursts forth into a rite of
color celebrating spring. [ Music & Indian singing ] [ Applause ] [ Music ] [Theodosia Austen]
Thank you very much for coming, and let’s thank Surati one more time for a great concert. [ Music ] [Female Speaker]
This has been a presentation of the Library of Congress. Visit us as

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