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Indian culture comes alive

Shreya and Sheila Narayanan were inspired by songs, costumes and choreography ideas to produce the dance production “Samarpana.”

And 41 members of the Shreyas Art Troupe will perform “Samarpana” from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Sickles High to show the progression of classical Indian dance. “It’s about the evolution of dance,” Sheila said. “It’s about everything dance is and is meant to be.” Sheila owns Shreyas – An Expression of Dance studio and shares the teaching duties with her daughter, Shreya, 18. The two have been planning and holding rehearsals for the performance for about a year.

Saturday’s performance is the second production the studio has hosted. In 2008, the mother-daughter duo put on “Sri Krishna Leela,” which had about 400 people there. Sheila said that production focused more on the stories of the Hindu god Krishna. “For ‘Samarpana’ we had a couple of songs we really loved, some costume ideas and choreography, and it all fell into place,” Shreya said.

Sheila said the planning and rehearsing takes time because of all that’s involved, which is also why she doesn’t host a recital for students every year. Dancers are required to learn the songs word for word. The songs are translated and interpreted into movements and gestures for the dance. The studio hosts classes from August to May. Many of the classes are considered milestones in Bharatha Natyam, a type of classical Indian dance. It also offers Bollywood-style classes. Dancing has always been a part of Sheila’s life. She began at age 5 and was presented with a lifetime opportunity of taking lessons from Padmini, a famous dancer and actress in India.

In 2001, she quit her career as a computer programmer to teach her daughter to dance. It also was about this time that other parents began asking her to instruct their children. With so many students she began renting space at different places until she decided to open a more permanent spot. Three years ago she opened the studio at 4427 Gunn Highway. And all that time Shreya has been at Shelia’s side helping with the teaching load. “It’s helpful to have a second set of eyes,” Sheila said. “It’s almost like we are one person instead of two.” “I love it (teaching). And when you’re busy you just learn how to balance things,” said Shreya, who is following the seven year medical track at the University of South Florida medical school.

The two hope to demonstrate through “Samarpana” all that goes into Indian dance. “It’s an experience of a lifetime to bring poetry into motion with costumes, lighting and dancing,” Sheila said. “Everything has a nice, deep meaning behind it.” Proceeds from the performance will benefit a fund to help educate children in rural India.

IF YOU GO…
WHAT: “Samarpana,” a performance of Indian dances
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Sickles High auditorium, 7950 Gunn Highway
TICKETS: $10 to $20
INFORMATION: (813) 961-6120 or e-mail shreyasarts@gmail.com

Community producer Jessica Balanza can be reached at (727) 451-2342.

By Jessica Balanza | Tribune Staff
Published: May 5, 2010   |   Updated: July 11, 2013 at 04:54 PM

 

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