When the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble celebrates Odissi, a classical native dance form at the Heymann Performance Arts Center this evening, it won't be the first time the troupe has been in town, but it will be its first Louisiana performance.
"They've come to Louisiana many times when they're here in the U.S. and have stayed in people's homes here in Lafayette in the past and Baton Rouge. But they have never performed here before," says Shanna Higginbotham, executive director of the Performing Arts Society of Acadiana. "So this is their first-ever performance in Louisiana, although the company has stayed here before."
Members of Nrityagram have not just contacts in Lafayette and Baton Rouge, but some serious connections.
"They have pretty strong roots in Louisiana with local people who live here in our community who are from India," says Higginbotham, adding that some have traveled back to the village in India where the group is from to see them perform. "So there's a relationship between a lot of our folks who live in Lafayette with their village here who travel back and forth."
The dance ensemble takes its the name from the village, Nrityagram (pronounced na-RIT-ya-gram), that is completely given over to the pursuit of dance.
Odissi combines seductive gestures, precise unison movements and suggestive facial expressions into a mesmerizing display. Sumptuously-costumed dancers and a quartet of musicians are the reasons The New York Times called Nrityagram's show "One of the most luminous dance events of the year!"
"They're really excited about this one because they've been here many times and they've never had the chance to perform," says Higginbotham. "It's a pretty big deal. They're world-renowned. Their village has so much history. So, it's pretty cool."
Nrityagram will make only four stops on their American tour: New York, Iowa, Mexico and Lafayette. Tickets begin at $28 and are available through ticketmaster.com or the Heymann Center Box Office at (337) 291-5555.
UL students and faculty receive a 50 percent discount with a valid UL ID, while additional discounts are available for those attending in groups of 10 or more. All promotional purchases are available through the Heymann Center Box Office only.
Go here for more information and to purchase tickets.