Yudh: Bay area debates war and peace through Bharatanatyam
- Poornima Ramaprasad
e-mail: poornima@sbcglobal.net

August 22, 2013

San Francisco Bay area audience was treated to a unique thought provoking presentation last weekend as Sangam Arts, a new sabha in the bay area was debuting with Savitha Sastry's Yudh. Yudh is a story of the war between good and evil and is brought out as a war in the mind of a human in his acceptance of God's rule or Satan's. In a series of scenes, the dancer convinces the audience that God still rules, good still outnumbers bad and ends giving a hope to one and all to live, love and believe.

Savitha Sastry's effortless dancing, seamless portrayal of so many roles showcased her versatility. With her flawless postures and flawless "everything" about her dance, she certainly proved that she is a world class Bharatanatyam exponent.  A common rasika is addicted to the traditionalism of an art form and is stubbornly unwilling to accept such experiments. But if they do get out of such reservations and are convinced by these experiments, that is when the art form can go to the next level and Yudh succeeded in that. With her one man story telling shows like Soul Cages and Yudh, Savitha Sastry has started a new genre of dance drama with Bharatanatyam as the medium.

Although the idea of portraying a non-religious story to pacify audience of all cultures is laudable, I must say the storyline of Yudh needed more substance. Need I say that Indian minds (which made 70% of the audience, rest was Indians raised in the US and some locals) would have been more satisfied with a traditional margam or an Indian mythology? To close that gap, the story could have been a contemporary classic with the intended theme rather than an ad-hoc creation.

That said, my young daughter, a typical Indian teen raised in the US with exposure to Bharatanatyam and Indian culture, was all praise for this show. So in that sense, Savitha Sastry has made an entry into the hearts of this class of audience. Kudos to her courage and spirit and may she be successful in bringing out more such productions that educates a common man on dance, theatre and life's realities.

Poornima Ramaprasad follows Indian classical music and dance forms. She reviews Indian dance and drama events in the San Francisco bay area from time to time.