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Tuesday March 21st

Ancient Indian dance arrives at UNC

courtesy of Carolina Performing Arts
Buy Photos courtesy of Carolina Performing Arts

Artist Vidya Kolyur will perform Yakshagana, an ancient South Indian art form, as part of a performance series, entitled Streams Of Spirit: Water Music From South Asia, hosted by Carolina Performing Arts.

Kolyur is the only woman in the world to lead a Yakshagana team.

Afroz Taj, professor in UNC’s Asian studies department, is responsible for bringing Kolyur to CPA. Through the Arts@TheCore initiative, Taj was able to curate the mini series and invite Kolyur.

Yakshagana is an art form that has been around for 700 years. The performances are stories taken from Hindu epics and include dancing, singing and acting.

“Yakshagana is a genre of dance — of ancient dance drama,” Taj said. “It has very thrilling music, upbeat rhythm. It’s very lively.”

Aaron Shackelford, Mellon post-doctoral fellow for CPA, said this performance will allow students to learn something they wouldn’t be able to in a classroom or lecture hall.

“All students and faculty across the University can really gain something that you can’t teach anywhere else from attending our performances, talking to artists and having experiences with world class artists really only Carolina Performing Arts can bring to the campus,” Shackelford said.

Shackelford called Kolyur a trailblazer because of the strides she has made as a woman in a male-dominated art form.

“It’s an opportunity for students to learn about a 700-year-old artistic tradition,” he said. “I think the artistic piece as well as Vidya’s work in the field are really important for students to appreciate.”

Joel Richardson, CPA marketing manager, said the curatorial program is a great way to bring new art forms to UNC.

“A part of the fellowship is to allow these University professors to show expertise in other cultures, in other areas, especially art,” he said. “So this is a very special opportunity for Carolina Performing arts through the Arts@TheCore program.”

He said access to such expert performances is beneficial to UNC students.

“The beauty of it is that students are able to have world class performers right here on campus for a $10 student price,” Richardson said.

Shackelford said students in attendance might be surprised at the connections they make to their own lives during the performance.

“It talks about conflict, talks about love, talks about relationships, all types of conversations students can have in their classrooms and their personal lives, to be honest,” he said.

“This is a great artistic experience for them to make those connections and be at first unfamiliar, but I think as they see the performance they’ll really find a lot of connections to their own studies and their own lives.”


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