SOUNDS OF INDIA | A Special Focus on the Arts of India Curated by Mark Morris, Highlights White Light Festival

This year, Lincoln Center’s seventh White Light Festival casts its gaze on artistic expression originating in and inspired by South India with Sounds of India,  which runs from October 25 through November 6.

Celebrated choreographer Mark Morris, who has developed a deep interest in and relationship with the area over three decades, is the curator of this special focus whose works will explore place, culture, tradition, and the creativity of this vibrant region. Along with Morris’s own Mark Morris Dance Group, artists rooted in South Indian classical dance and music traditions will shed light on the universal nature of India’s artistic heritage and dynamism.

Sounds of India will feature ten performances in the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, and two in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse (A Little Night Music late-night events), four films, artist talks, and the popular post-performance White Light Lounges, where performers and audience members have an opportunity to meet.  On view at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Art Gallery (at John Jay College), where White Light Lounges will take place, is an exhibition curated by Mark Morris entitled Masterji Series, featuring photographs by acclaimed Indian artist Dayanita Singh.

The program opens with a film series of free screenings (October 25 and 26) of Bengali auteur Satyajit Ray’s acclaimed Apu Trilogy: Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and Apur Sansar.  The trilogy, which was stunningly restored frame-by-frame after the original reels were devastated by fire, is paired with Jean Renoir’s groundbreaking 1951 color masterpiece The River, a work that Ray credited as a catalyst for his own artistry. All four films will be shown in the Bruno Walter Auditorium at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Indian classical vocalist Bombay Jayashri, known for her distinctive performance style rooted in the South Indian Carnatic tradition, is accompanied by percussion, violin, and tambura for the opening concert of Soundsof India on October 27.

Actors and musicians from a prestigious performing arts institution form the Kerala Kalamandalam Kathakali Troupe, which brings elaborate costumes and makeup, refined gestures, and the ornate singing of the mythic dance-drama Kathakali to the Gerald W. Lynch Theater on October 28 and 30, to perform “The Killing of Dussasana” from the epic Hindu tale the Mahabharata.

Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) will dance the world premiere of a new Mark Morris work, Pure Dance Items, set to the music of Terry Riley on a program that also includes revivals of two India-inspired solos from early in Morris’ career remade on members of the company, and a humorous duet set to a lively Tamil film score on October 29, November 3, and November 5.

Master percussionist V. Selvaganesh hails from a legendary lineage of Chennai musicians, and is renowned as one of the great khanjira (South Indian frame drum) players of his generation and a virtuoso of thekonnakol tradition of percussive vocal patterns. He performs with his ensemble, which includes his Grammy Award–winning musician father, Vikku Vinayakram, on November 1.

Nrityagram Dance Ensemble hails from a village devoted to dance, whose all-female members complement their intensive training with studies of literature, Sanskrit, yoga, meditation, and martial arts to perfect the art of Odissi dance, a classical form dating back 2,000 years.  The ensemble will give two performances, November 2 and 4.

The Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble and Nrityagram Music Ensemble will each be featured in intimate, hour-long, late-night A Little Night Music concerts, accompanied by complimentary wine, candlelight, and skyline views from the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse. Nrityagram Music Ensemble performs a traditional Indian music program on November 3, and MMDG Music Ensemble performs works by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Nico Muhly, Messiaen, and more on November 4.

The Sounds of India focus concludes on November 6 with a concert by T.M. Krishna, an Indian vocal visionary who brings striking innovations to traditional forms. Joined by a traditional instrument ensemble, the classically trained Chennai native performs ragas as well as Carnatic music shaped by a range of pan-cultural influences.