The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday February 6th

UNC to host Indian classical dancer Shantala Shivalingappa in Memorial Hall

Correction (Nov. 8, 10:43 a.m.): Due to a reporting error, this story previously stated that Yera Chokshi was a member of UNC’s Bhangra Elite. Chokshi is a captain of Ek Taal, a semi-classical Indian dance team at UNC. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

Shantala Shivalingappa unites the Eastern and Western worlds through dance.


Time: 7:30 p.m. tonight
Location: Memorial Hall
Tickets: $10 to $39

The Indian classical dancer will perform her piece “Shiva Ganga” in Memorial Hall tonight.

Afroz Taj, an Asian studies professor who helped publicize the event, said the dancer was born in India, but was brought up in Paris — which accounts for the Eastern and Western influences in her dancing.

He said she learned many styles of Indian classical dance from her mother.

The style she will perform tonight is called Kuchipudi, a 2,000-year-old tradition.

Taj said Kuchipudi arose in Southern India “to connect a poet, musician and costumed dancer as a single entity.”

He also said Shivalingappa captures the extempore style of Kuchipudi with her facial expressions and body movements even though the performance is choreographed.

“She moves the rhythm through her feet — the rhythm seems to follow her as she dances,” he said.

Prior to the performance, Nileena Dash, director of Pani Dance Academy in Chapel Hill, will showcase eight different Indian styles of dance in Gerrard Hall, including Kuchipudi.

Dash said “Shiva Ganga” will begin with the classical “nritta,” a technical dance created to ask forgiveness from mother earth for “stomping on her.”

She also said the dance will continue with the “nritya,” or the telling of a story, and will conclude with the “natya,” or a dramatization.

Dash said Kuchipudi is a very spiritual form of dance whose style is meant to be an act of worship, whether the performance is in a Hindu temple or Memorial Hall.

Yera Chokshi, a member of Ek Taal — an Indian semi-classical dance team on the UNC campus, said like Shivalingappa, her team performs to share the rhythm of Indian dance with its audience.

“Our biggest challenge as a team is to take an aged art form and blend classical Indian dance with Western music to close a generational and cultural gap,” Chokshi said.

Taj said all audiences will enjoy Kudipuchi. He said he became obsessed with the dance after a single three-hour performance.

“Kudipuchi is a very luring dance,” Taj said. “There is no need to acquire a taste for it — you immediately get absorbed.”

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