What the world needs now is a little hope.
Enter Viji Rao and her classical Indian Three Aksha Dance Ensemble. Their performance of Bharatanatyam pieces Friday and Saturday at the Painted Bride Arts Center on Vine Street is all about accentuating the positive.
“The one thing that’s close to my heart is that’s it’s all about peace,” Rao says. “There are so many things going on right now with the environment and bombings, I just wanted to bring a lot of peace. I just wanted to talk about life as a cycle. There’s no need to fight for everything in life – it’s all there. It’s just up to us to enjoy it.”
One of the works performed by the Three Aksha ensemble will be the Pushkara, which illustrates the Hindu philosophy of life being a temporary part of a cycle.
“Everybody talks about birth or death but people don’t talk about rebirth,” Rao says. “In Hindu mythology, the death means you’re reaching toward your peak. Fortunately, or unfortunately, they believe there’s a rebirth and you comeback as a reincarnation of something or you comeback as a human and you do that seven times.”
Rao is a native of India who danced and choreographed professionally in the England. She founded Three Aksha, based at Girard College, in 2003.
The face and hands are emphasized in Indian classical dance.
“The hand gestures and the facial expressions are based on the temple statues and sculptures you see in southern or northern India,” Rao says.
The company started out with a handful of followers and now has more than 12,000 in its database, Rao says. Each performance is preceded by an explanatory introduction so audience members can more easily follow along.
“[In Philadelphia] the Indian parents want their children to know about their culture and heritage so they bring their kids to the shows,” Rao says.
Non-Indians, she adds, "are looking for something new and different and that’s where Three Aksha comes in.”