About this project
"...We want this story to inspire viewers to personally reflect and meditate on their own life experiences, and ultimately find hope as well..."
My name is Nadhi Thekkek and I am co-Artistic Director of Nava Dance Theatre, based in the Bay Area. My good friend and fellow Artistic Director, Sophia Valath and I are raising money for our original Bharatanatyam dance production, "The Cloud Messenger" which will premiere with seven dancers and a live music ensemble in CounterPULSE's Performing Diaspora Festival August 22-25 in San Francisco. We are fortunate enough to work closely with world-renowned composer and flautist, GS Rajan on this production. Together, along with your help, we can make my long time vision of creating and performing this piece, come alive. Your contribution will help cover new music composition, new costumes, a live music ensemble, equipment rental, documentation, and studio time.
Bharatanatyam is a South Indian classical art form. It largely consists of rhythmic footwork and beautiful movement, as well as intricate gestures and mime. All these elements are used together to tell incredible stories.
THE PROJECT: The Cloud Messenger
This new Bharatanatyam piece is about a yaksha (or demi-god) who is exiled and separated from his beloved. When he feels like all hope is lost, he finds solace in a young raincloud and tries hard to convince her to embark on a difficult journey, to ultimately take a message of love to his beloved. This magical and unconventional romance shows why loves journey, though risky, is indeed something beautiful.
"The Cloud Messenger" is composed of four excerpts from this narrative, inspired by Kalidasa's famous poem, Meghadhutha. Each piece was inspired by carefully chosen lines from this poem. We spent months reading through different translations and analyses of the text. We also spent that time discussing our own interpretations of Kalidasa's beautiful language and imagery. To us, the verses that we chose were universal points in the narrative, and were verses that moved us the most.
My goal for the piece was to be able to translate my emotional response to the narrative, into Bharatanatyam. This vision dictated the music composition, the choreography, and lastly, determined what parts of the narrative were to be included in the final presentation. Even though various verses of the poem inspired the pieces, in large part the work is lyric-less; I wanted the musical phrases and the choreography to tell the story. I hope this non-traditional approach to the narrative will make the story and its message accessible to a diverse audience.
In our collaborative interpretation, the raincloud acts as a go between for two lovers. Her character is the solace that we seek in our everyday lives, especially when we feel like we have nowhere else to turn. This piece is an interpretation of how we seek that solace, or maybe even how that solace seeks us.
To me, this work is about keeping the faith in something good. It is about new beginnings. It is about staying hopeful and optimistic. If we, as directors, as dancers, as a company can make people in the audience feel like there is something good in their lives, then I think we (ALL of us including our contributors) will have done a great thing. We want this story to inspire viewers to personally reflect and meditate on their own life experiences, and ultimately find hope as well.
Help us make this happen!
Sophia and I are extremely excited to be working with a talented music ensemble for this production. I have known many of them for a long time, and I look forward to performing with them in August. The musicians are, Murali Parthasarathy (vocalist), M.S. Sukhi (mridangist), N. Veeramani (violinist), and Kali Futnani (nattuvangam). Our collaborator, G.S. Rajan (composer/flautist) will also be performing his original compositions during the festival.
Sophia and I also get to work with exceptional dancers who have trained under various teachers in the US and in India and who have danced in companies all over the US. Nava dancers include myself and Sophia Valath (both artistic directors and principal dancers), Arun Mathai (principal dancer), Jaya Kurian, Priya Sreedharan, Shilpi S. Mehta, and Tanu Sreedharan.
Nava Dance Theatre
Nava Dance Theatre is a Bharatanatyam dance company, formed to create a space that uses the classical Indian dance form to tell stories that inspire us. Sophia and I believe that Bharatanatyam, while classical, is a modern medium that can be used to present a variety of perspectives; these perspectives can be inspired by anything from ancient poems to current events. Through this company and the content we produce, we want to break barriers between classicists and people who have never seen a classical Indian art before, while presenting a level of depth and beauty that can be appreciated by veteran artists and newcomers alike.
For more information on the Performing Diaspora Festival and Nava's involvement, please visit:
For more information on the Performing Diaspora Festival Line-Up:
For more information on Composer/Flautist GS Rajan, please visit:
For information and updates from Nava Dance Theatre, please visit:
Risks and challenges
One of the main challenges is creating for the black box theatre on-site at CounterPULSE. The audience is so close that it feels like we are dancing with them rather than in front of them. Creating choreography, orchestration, and costumes which enhance that intimate setting is new to us. However CounterPULSE has been an amazing partner in letting us explore each of these elements in the space. We have undergone two work-in-progress showings in that space, and received useful and encouraging feedback regarding all of these elements.
Another challenge is working with a dancer and musicians who are not in the area. However each artist is fully committed to performing and creating with us. Often making visits to the Bay Area to make headway on the project. I am confident in our dancers and collaborators. They have shown me time and time again that they are committed to the vision of this project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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