Preeti Vasudevan premieres
Stories by Hand
New York Live Arts, 7.30pm
November 2-4, 2017 NYC
September 28, 2017
“Stories by Hand,” Preeti Vasudevan’s autobiographical solo that combines language, music and dance to tell its witty, poignant, and tragic stories, will receive its world premiere at New York Live Arts, November 2-4. Vasudevan’s collaborators include Paul Kaiser (literary dramaturg), Robert Wiezel (lighting designer), and Paul Jacob (composer).
Marking a radical deviation from conventional Indian narratives which rely on myths, legends, gods and goddesses for their story lines, Vasudevan’s stories are acutely personal and contemporary. Through a seamless integration of classical Indian hand gestures, movement and language, Vasudevan deftly brings to life the people who shaped her emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, and her relationships to them. The result is a unique perspective on what it means to be an Indian woman living in the United States in 2017.
The hour-long dance is divided into three sections or “clusters.” In “Relationships,” Vasudevan combines her natural wit and empathy to contrast her grandparents’ traditional Indian marriage with her own contemporary experiences with love and divorce in India and the United States. Vasudevan’s Bharatanatyam training is called upon and explored in “Dancing Body,” the second section, in which she portrays a temple dancer as she prepares for performance. Living in a contradictory world in which the dancer is both a deity and courtesan, her double-edged fate is embodied in movement suggesting the conflict between mortality and immortality, purity and dissolution, darkness and light. The third section tells of a close cousin’s harrowing decision to take the life of his entire family and himself, and the spiritual and emotional effect it had on Vasudevan and her relationship to her young American-born daughter. Vasudeven’s natural ability to play multiple roles, sometimes within the same scene while narrating the story in both English and Tamil, testifies to her fleet-footed intelligence and versatility as an actress and riveting dancer.
Performance Dates: November 2-4, 2017
There will be a post-performance discussion between Bill T. Jones and Preeti Vasudevan on November 3.
Venue: New York Live Arts is located at 219 West 19th Street, New York City.
Tickets: Begin at $15, and can be purchased by calling the New York Live Arts box office at 212-924-0077, or online on the New York Live Arts website: http://newyorklivearts.org/event/stories-by-hand/
About Preeti Vasudevan
Vasudevan trained in Chennai, under the Bharatanatyam couple V.P. Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan and was a part of their troupe. Exposure to Western contemporary dance, first in India where she studied with American choreographer Don Redlich and former Jose Limon dancer Sarah Stackhouse, and then in the United States, where she was mentored by the late ballerina Violette Verdy, opened her eyes to the similarities and differences between the forms, and their potential to enrich each other. These discoveries led her to Laban Centre in London. After receiving her MA in dance studies from Laban, she moved to New York City where in 2005 she founded Thresh, a performing arts collaborative.
The company was in residence at the Centre National de la Danse in Paris in 2007 and 2010. In 2013, Thresh received seven nominations at the META (Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards) awards for its production Savitri. In 2009, Thresh won three META awards for The Absent Lover, which was also featured at the Birmingham International Dance Festival UK. Commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its 2015 exhibition of the courtly arts of Deccan India, Vasudevan’s Veiled Moon visually translated the 18th century works of Muslim courtesan and poet Mah Laqa Bai Chanda. Among her other works are Boxed, choreographed for Jacques D’Amboise’s National Dance Institute 2014 (NY); Rain, performed at Judson Church (NY) 2013; Drumming a Dream, a commissioned work for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (2009) NY.
She was part of the Joyce Theater’s Emerging Choreographer series at Joyce Soho in 2003. In Spring 2016, Vasudevan became the first Indian choreographer to be awarded a Resident Fellowship at the Center for Ballet and the Arts, NYU, where she began developing a series of duets with herself and New York City Ballet principal Amar Ramasar. Bill T. Jones, recognizing the groundbreaking possibilities of Vasudevan’s work, invited her to become a New York Live Arts Artist-In-Residence for 2015-17. STORIES BY HAND was created during her residency.
Her website on Bharatanatyam - Dancing for the Gods - is used internationally by teachers, practitioners, and students to understand Indian cultural expression through dance. She holds a Certified Movement Analyst certificate from the Laban Institute of Movement Studies in New York.