Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Madhavi Mudgal & Alarmel Valli

Madhavi Mudgal, right, and Alarmel Valli in
Samanvaya: A Coming Together at the Kennedy Center
© The Washington Post

As many Western forms of dance, in their struggle to retain audience interest, ratchet up displays of physical force, it is refreshing to see a pair of Indian dancers who can thrill a crowd with the way they shift their eyes. Madhavi Mudgal and Alarmel Valli, renowned classical dancers and utterly charming performers, kept the audience rapt at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater on Wednesday with subtle drama taken at a leisurely pace in “Samanvaya: A Coming Together.”

Samanvaya is the Sanskrit word for harmony, an idea that Mudgal and Valli made incarnate by combining their dance styles. Mudgal is an expert in the curvaceous, fluid technique of odissi, while Valli is a leading practitioner of the sharper, well-defined movements of bharatanatyam. You couldn't confuse one with the other—Mudgal was the rounder of the two, with a discernibly soft physicality, while Valli possessed a more athletic, reedlike appearance. It's difficult to imagine two more disparate dancers complementing each other so beautifully onstage.

Kaufman, S. (2011), ‘Samanvaya’: Harmony in motion, sealed with a look, Washington Post, March 3, 2011.

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