Sunday, September 14, 2014

Jiva Dance Steps to a Classical Note ...

The Jiva Dance company honors an important bird in "Mayura: Blue Peacock." Photos courtesy of Jiva Dance.


a showy, even magnificent but seemingly earthbound bird, at its best strutting and displaying its feathers.

Dance, on the other hand, is the essence of leaping, rising, reaching – a kind of flight. So perhaps it is safe to infer that rather than finding inspiration from the national bird of India, a rare and beautiful peacock, Sonali Skandan and her Jiva Dance company honor it.

Later this week, they unveil “Mayura: Blue Peacock,” a Bharatanatyam classical dance production.

Jiva Dance founder and artistic director Sonali Skandan is on an important mission.

“Mayura is the Sanskrit word for peacock, and throughout history, this magical creature has been featured in poetry, literature, sculpture, art, music, dance and mythology,” says SS, who founded Jiva Dance six years ago with a mission to present (and educate audiences about) the classical music and dance of India.

The company seeks to preserve and promote the traditional arts, while incorporating innovative techniques and invigorating the classical with a fresh and unique voice.

SS says of the peacock and the new production: “We wanted to pay homage to its beauty, grace and regal nature through our movement, music and choreography.”

The artistic director draws from these sources in her choreography for the evening-length program – from classical poetry and Indian myths and legends and love songs. An original score is provided by Rajkumar Bharathi, one of India’s most highly regarded composers.

The Jiva Dance company was founded in 2008.

“Mayura: Blue Peacock” will be performed on the evenings of 18-20 Sept. at the Chen Dance Center in New York's Chinatown.

Visit to learn more about "Mayura: Blue Peacock" and Jiva Dance; visit for ticket information.

While Shakedown Dance Collective Lets It Rip
THE populist and free-form Shakedown Dance Collective (SDC) represents nearly the polar opposite of the stylized approach of Jiva Dance.

The New York City-based SDC, conceived by dancer-choreographers Jamie Benson and Deborah Lohse, invites everyone to get up and perform.

There are lessons, so the less adept won't fall flat. The concept, however, is anyone can (and should) dance. (See video at right).

The SDC season is just a week old and the dancing is from 7 to 8 ($10 class) Monday nights immediately followed by an hourlong rehearsal (free) at the Chrystie Street Ballet Academy.

Visit to learn more about the Shakedown Dance Collective.

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