Get ready to have fun, get in shape and learn about a different culture, too, when members of Blue13 Dance Company arrive on the scene in the San Fernando Valley this weekend.
The contemporary Indian dance theatre ensemble, set to present Bollywood and Bhangra styles of dance, intends to ignite everyone’s enthusiasm and get their hearts pumping a whole lot faster.
The free dance program, part of the Ford Theatres J.A.M. sessions, requires no previous experience. The dance crew provides basic instruction, and surprisingly, many of the moves are similar to those found in hip-hop, jazz and folk dancing. Add to these, several classical Indian postures, and the Bollywood foothold sets the scene for unlimited action.
Artistic Director Achinta S. McDaniel is the force behind Blue13, which she started in 1999. The exuberance of her and her colleagues has enchanted audiences across the country and around the world.
As a member of Pentacle (DanceWorks, Inc.), a non-profit service organization for the performing arts, Blue13 Dance Company’s live performances, educational forums and outreach programs are geared to preserve and share the culture of India, with the goal of unifying people through the arts.
McDaniel’s love of dance has been life-long. Born in Queens, New York, she grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where she showed a great interest in dance. By age 14, she was already exhibiting her talent as a choreographer at Hathaway Brown School; she would later return to the Big Apple to attend NYU (New York University), where she received a degree in Choreography, Dance, and Theatre.
Not long thereafter, McDaniel would travel to the home of her ancestors, India. It was there that she had the rare opportunity to study with Maya Rao, one of the premiere experts in the classical dance style of Kathak and founder of the Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography.
For more than two millennia, Kathak has been an integral part of Indian culture wherein storytellers (kathakas) originally used elements of dance, as they wove tales of epic proportion. Both educational and entertaining, such stories would prove to be an important part of India’s cultural heritage well into the future.
With the creation of Blue13 Dance Company, McDaniel has pledged to keep this legacy alive…but only up to a point. Storytelling through dance is at the heart of the company, yet those renditions can be defiant, stormy, and at times, downright irreverent.
Still, all that foot stomping, hip swaying, and arm gesturing bespeaks a universal message, simple to understand, no matter what language one speaks.
(BOLLYWOOD J.A.M. Session at El Cariso Regional Park will be held on Saturday September 14, from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. in the El Cariso Park Gymnasium and Community Center, located at 13100 Hubbard Street, Sylmar 91342. This event is free; ample free parking is available. For additional information call: 323-461-3673.)