Sonya Levine ’17 talks to Hari Krishnan about Alarmel Valli (Oct. 10 & 11)

Wesleyan University DanceLink Fellow and CFA Arts Administration Intern Sonya Levine ’17 talks to Associate Professor of Dance Hari Krishnan about internationally acclaimed Indian dancer and choreographer Alarmél Valli, who makes her Connecticut debut on Sunday, October 11, 2015 at 3pm in Crowell Concert Hall as the conclusion of the 39th annual Navaratri Festival. Mr. Krishnan will also have a conversation with Ms. Valli following the free screening of the film “Lasya Kavya: The World of Alarmél Valli” on Saturday, October 10, 2015 at 2pm in CFA Hall.

Alarmél Valli. Photo by Narendra Dangiya.
Alarmél Valli. Photo by Narendra Dangiya.

How does Alarmél Valli bring the forms of music, dance and poetry together? 

Seamlessly and with great sophistication and accessibility! As a dancer who embodies the word “articulate” in every fiber of her being, Alarmél Valli is also trained extensively in music, and has an innate love for literature and poetry. So, her dance is literally visual music in the highest order. She is acclaimed as an artist who sings with her body. She has often been described as a painter who uses her body as an empty canvas, painting upon it all the glorious colors, hues, and tints of life.

What are the stories that she tells?

Her stories are always about the sensual and spiritual coming together in a complex, integrated manner. Her stories give great hope and affirmation of life and humanity. Her stories have the unique ability to cut across linguistic, social, political, and cultural boundaries. Alarmél Valli is a rare, one-of-a-kind artist whose dance touches everyone universally.

Why is Alarmél Valli important to the dance world?

Alarmél Valli is an internationally acclaimed superstar Bharatanatyam dancer. She has been a leading light in the industry for the past 40 years, touring major theaters, festivals, and opera houses from Europe to Asia. She has transformed the traditional solo dance of Bharatanatyam into a vibrant, dynamic, and engaging solo dance style—current and relevant for a 21st century global audience. This is why she is much sought after by the most avant-garde theaters and festivals in Europe to the most conservative classical arts-friendly venues in India. On a personal level, it has been a long-awaited dream of mine to have Alarmél Valli’s appearance at Wesleyan. Her dance teacher and my dance teacher were cousins. She is also a dear friend, and I have followed her work since the late 1980s.

Why is Wesleyan an ideal site for this performance?

Wesleyan University is a major site for the performance of Indian dance and music for the past 50 years, and that is why all the great artists of India consider it an honor to perform on this campus. From a dance perspective, Wesleyan is also a major historical site for the preservation of an important strand of courtesan-style Bharatanatyam, so to have someone like Alarmél Valli, who intersects tradition and modernity, is a natural progression as a testimony to this great institution. The audiences are in for a treat on Sunday afternoon where an iconic dance artist who has been compared to [Rudolf] Nureyev and [Mikhail] Baryshnikov will grace the stage.

Alarmél Valli
Connecticut Debut
Sunday, October 11, 2015 at 3pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown
$18 general public; $15 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students