Seldom does a dance company bring a calling card as intellectually, joyfully audacious as C.V. Chandrasekhar’s “Arohanam” (“The Ascent”), danced by Chandrasekhar’s troupe, Nrityashree of Vadodara, on Sunday at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.
Ostensively a synthesis of the Western theory of evolution and various aspects of Indian belief, the hourlong work rather easily assimilated poor Darwinism in purposeful Eastern teleology.
Chandrasekhar’s hypothesis was that every stage of evolutionary progress produced a supreme example, either worshiped or worthy of worship as a demigod or god. Indeed, if a non-Indian observer were not mistaken, even Hinduism--represented by Krishna and his consort Rhada--appeared to be subsumed within the final multiple images of the Buddha.
Sounds cut and dried, but not so Chandrasekhar’s fluid, playful and witty choreography, which drew on traditional Bharata Natyam hand gestures to evoke images from fish to humans; progressed in technical difficulties much as a series of etudes, and bathed the supreme types in radiant devotion.
Chandrasekhar, who is in his late 50s, composed the music and served as vocal soloist for this and all the works except his solo, “Shiva Tandava,” in which he was a bit unsteady in balances but still remarkably expressive.
He has led the company into the forefront of extending this dance idiom by utilizing group choreography and also male dancers. The troupe includes three women (Chandrasekhar’s daughters, Chitra and Manjari, and Rema Sreekanthan), and four men (Sharad Pandya, Darshan Purohit, Amar Vyas and Nilesh Parekh).
The company was making its first United States tour and only West Coast appearance (under the sponsorship of the Arpana Foundation of Irvine). Skillful accompaniment was provided by Vibhas Ranade, violin, and Ravi Krishnan, mridangam.