22nd Ramayan - an annual exposure to the great epic
by Makarand Bidwai, New York
mostly American artists and students of the East West School of Dance,
Ramayan, a musical dance drama enactment included nine different scenes.
It was a feast in the open air amphitheater at the Ananda Ashram – Yoga
Society of New York, a feast to the eyes, the ears, and the spirit of many
a soul who drove here, some for the first time. Located in the picturesque
valley on the foothills of Catskills mountain range there is perhaps no
better site for Panchavati, the abode in banishment of Sita, Ram, and Laxman
in the Dandak Aaranya (Dandak Forest).
The great Golden Deer that has supposedly started the epic battle between Ram and the ten-headed Raavan was none other than agile Alexander Lyle, another professional ballet dancer. He was very jerky, jumpy, and enchanting, alluring to Sita as was the divine need of the hour.
On the evil side, Shurpanaka, the wicked sister of Raavan was performed both, as a beautiful maiden, and in her original demoness form by the versatile Serena Soffer, a professional ballet trainer and choreographer. Finally, the angry Raavan was aptly enacted by Steve Hirsch, with his heavy thumping of the wooden deck of the amphitheater, he gave the audience a crash tour of the Golden Lanka, his kingdom with his cruel power ill-begotten from Shiva’s boon. The air was full of fear, and anxiety, and culminated in the setting ablaze of the Golden Lanka, rescue of the kidnapped Sita, coronation of Ram, to a loud applause from the two hundred strong audience, just before midnight past Saturday.
The cast had assembled from the Tristate area under the direction of Pandit Satyanarayana Charka, a cultural ambassador from India who has founded the East West School of Dance under inspiration from the late Shri Brahmananda Saraswati, himself the founder of Ananda Ashram, in Monroe, New York.
To learn more, please call (845) – 783 - 7514.
Hailing from Baroda (Gujarat,
India), Makarand Bidwai has spent most of the past ten years in the US,
promoting Astronomy, and other sciences and math subjects.