Indian dance blends with sign language to weave compelling tales

The Jayanthi Raman Dance Company will treat audiences to a culturally rich program this weekend at the Beaverton City Library.

Jayanthi Raman, an acclaimed dancer, choreographer and master artist, has crafted an experimental dance theater production blending contemporary Indian dance with American Sign Language to weave stories for all ages to SUBMITTED PHOTO - Jayanthi Raman, who portrays a dancer sitting in a thoughtful mood, will perform Saturday and Sunday in 'Sign Mudras.'

In "Sign Mudras," Raman, who lives in Bethany, will take the stage along with traditional Indian musicians. She will be joined by Ramya Raman and Natya dancers from her schools based in Beaverton and Hillsboro. Their performances will be complemented by storytelling provided by American Sign Language interpreter Dot Hearn of the Performing Arts Interpreting Alliance in Portland.

The first concert piece promises to be a theatrical one. In "Navarasa Kalinga Nardanam" Jayanthi Raman and Ramya Raman will perform the dance of Krishna, featuring live music by violinist EB Jayaprakash and Mridangist-drummer B. Vijayan. The second piece, "Madhurashtakam," is more traditional and will be performed by 10 Natya students.

The final selection, called "Seasons," offers contemporary modern dance with traditional grounding performed to an original musical score by Vidwan Ganesh Rajagopalan. Jayanthi Raman and Ramya Raman will again delight audiences in this abstract piece. All pieces in the show were choreographed by Jayanthi Raman, who was assisted by Ramya Raman. Jayanthi Raman's choreography is based in ancient Indian traditions and has been lauded for its deep-rooted classicism as well as for its aesthetic experimentation and willingness to cross boundaries. She has choreographed 25 full-length productions and many solo and group works. Using the Indian classical dance form Bharatha Natyam as the starting point for her exploration, she creates thought-provoking work that has been recognized with several awards.

Saturday and Sunday performances are funded in part by a Beaverton Arts Commission community program grant and the Beaverton Arts and Culture Foundation.

"Sign Mudras"

What: Experimental dance theater using contemporary Indian dance and American Sign Language for storytelling.

When: Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m.

Where: Beaverton City Library Auditorium, 12375 S.W. Fifth St.

Admission: Free for all. Suitable for all ages.

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