The story is a familiar one. It begins with one lost boy. The boy is adopted by a pack of wolves. He is then kidnapped by a band of monkeys, rescued by his bear and panther friends, briefly cared for by a woman mourning the loss of her son and finally defeats the power hungry tiger that is determined to destroy him. Of course, the boy is Mowgli and the story is from Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”.
While the story may be familiar, the Oakland Ballet Company’s presentation of this classic story is not. In a reimagining of the standard narrative, OBC Artistic Director Graham Lustig - in partnership with Nadhi Thekkek and Nava Dance Theater - has created an incredibly innovative new work blending classical south Indian dance and modern ballet to tell a story of longing, friendship and acceptance. Danced to an all-Indian musical score that includes classical ragas and bhangra, “Jangala” fuses the centuries old tradition of bharatanatyam with contemporary ballet. Drawing on the breath and the depth of Indian music plus the exquisite beauty of classical Indian dance “Jangala” is unlike any other performance of this well-known story.
Nava Dance Theater - a bharatanatyam dance company based in San Francisco - uses this classical Indian dance form as medium for artistic reflection and discovery. The dancers of Nava believe that this classical form can be used to illuminate both traditional and contemporary themes. In addition to “Jangala” the artists of the Nava Dance Theater and the Oakland Ballet will be presenting a new work as part of this year’s program. This new work will be inspired by the poems of the Nobel Prize winning Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore and the Pulitzer Prize winning American poet Mary Oliver. Rabindranath Tagore was known and highly regarded for his sensitive, fresh and lyric verse while Mary Oliver was praised for poems that carefully observed the quietly meaningful moments of the natural world. Although of seemingly disparate backgrounds both poets shared a profound appreciation of nature as a source of spirituality. As with “Jangala” this new work will be performed to live Indian music. It will feature three of the women of Nava Dance Theater partnered with three male dancers from Oakland Ballet. The Nava Dance artists will also present their own new piece showcasing their dancers in the classical style of bharatanatyam.
This program is family-friendly, colorful, exciting, and certainly a must-attend event.
Wednesday, May 22, 7 pm
San Leandro High School Performing Arts Center
Free for San Leandro residents
Tickets available on a first-come-first-serve basis that evening
Thursday, May 30, 7:30 pm
Friday, May 31, 7:30 pm
Saturday, June 1, 3:00 pm
Saturday, June 1, 7:30 pm
Odell Johnson Performing Arts Center, Laney College, Oakland
Tickets can be purchased at http://oaklandballet.org/wp/jangala/