Triveni Ensemble, led by Artistic Director Neena Gulati, is gearing up to tell Hindu mythology through an unusual lens: that of the demoness.
Gulati, who was named the 2016 Dance Champion by Boston Dance Alliance, founded the Triveni School of Dance and its professional ensemble, which performs throughout the area for companies, schools and myriad events. “Rakshasi” is Triveni Ensemble’s annual fundraiser, and all proceeds will be donated to the American Nepal Medical Foundation.
Gulati choreographed two of the eight pieces in “Rakshasi,” leaving the rest to five dancers who have been with her for about 25 years. Each piece deals with stories of different demonesses — powerful, female demons who commonly appear in Hindu mythology.
In traditional Indian dance, every movement has significance. Gulati provides narration before each piece so that audience members who are not trained in the genre can understand the choreography’s story.
“This way the audience is able to follow what’s going on onstage, and it makes such a difference,” Gulati says. “Even for the dancers – suddenly the audience is with me, it’s not that all this is going above their heads, they are involved in the story.”
The 26-person ensemble consists of dancers from ages 15-35 – plus Gulati, who’s a senior citizen – who have fulfilled the requirements to dance professionally. Most of the adults in the group also have full-time jobs.
Gulati explains that she has seen a surge in interest in Indian dance recently, and hopes that the show will appeal to both those who are and aren’t familiar with Indian culture.
“It is, I think, one of the most sophisticated dance styles in the world, because one, the rhythm is very complex, two, it has such an elaborate mind – the hand gestures, facial expressions, body postures used to enact these stories are infinite,” Gulati says.
“Rakshasi” will be performed April 1 and 2 at the Boston University Dance Theater. Tickets are $25, $20 for students and seniors.