Celebration of 40 years of Kalasri with Himalaya
- Jeanine Wallace
Photos: Ismael Lorenzo

December 16, 2016

“Wow...” was my first thought when I held the invitation to Kalasri`s 40 years jubilee performance in my hands. What a difficult task, to capture and cover such a vast topic, I thought further, and so I went to the Scala Theatre in Basel with great curiosity and interest. After Diwali prayers and offerings to the gods by D. Keshava and family, a truly magical performance journey began.

It started with the Kalasri dance school ensemble gracefully portraying the Himalaya mountains, also called the ‘Rooftop of the World’ and its century-old fascination to people. This was followed by a solo performance of Keshava dancing a hymn about the Wonder of Nature called Himalayas, which, according to Indian mythology, is the parenting deity of Goddess Parvati. As the Himalayas are also a highly spiritual place where the practice of yoga originates from, a wonderful interpretation of various yoga figures was danced by the dance ensemble, appearing so graceful and easy it made one want to enroll in one of the Kalasri yoga classes on the spot.
Like in all mountain regions of the world, but particularly in the Himalayas with its deep canyons and mountains, some as high as 8000 metres and more, echoes can be experienced. Anjali and Sumitra Keshava now enchanted the spectators with a beautiful performance on that phenomenon called ‘Echo.’ The movements of both dancers were perfect and partially synchronic; it was awesome, as my American friends would say. The next mystic tale was about Rati Manmatha, why love is invisible to us humans. I liked this translation into dance by Keshava and his daughters Anjali and Sumitra, both equally gifted performers like their parents Keshava and Esther Jenny. Wonderful also the slightly humorous touch added by Keshava in his way of performing angry god Shiva.

Gangaavatarana tells about the river Ganga, India’s most holy river, and how the water masses were brought from heaven to earth gently and in seven streams, pouring down Shiva’s hair. Amazingly well choreographed and interpreted in Kathak style, one of the major forms of Indian classical dance. Guest star dancer Bharathi Vittal from India fascinated with her performance, swirling and circling powerful yet equally gracious like whirling water itself. Vittal was the perfect person to portray Mother Ganga, appearing wise and ageless at the same time. The final act of the Himalaya dance theatre was Tillana, about and in honor of Shiva, god of Indian dance. Once more, the complete Kalasri Dance Ensemble entered the stage and presented a colourful, sparkling dance finale, a truly worthy happy end to a marvelous evening with wonderful performers, both dancers as well as musicians, in a spirit-lifting atmosphere.   

The credits include concept and music composition by D. Keshava, choreography by Keshava, Anjali and Sumitra Keshava. The dancers were Anjali Keshava, Sumitra Keshava, D. Keshava, Bharathi Vittal, Marina Weiss, Mandip Singh, Michèlle Stöcklin, Jasmin Fröhlich, Keya Karan, and Kevin Madassery. The music ensemble included Pratheev Kanagalingam (vocals/violin), Rukshan Srirangarajah (mridangam), Janarth Kanagarasa (veena) and Suthan Siva (ghatam).  

Jeanine Wallace is a free correspondent, Basel, Switzerland.