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Rupayan with the Kalapriya Dancers
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This project is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

+ About the Performance
This program was recorded 09/20/2008 at Symphony Space.

Rajasthan, the "land of kings" in northwestern India and home of the great Thar Desert, has one of the liveliest folk traditions in India. Its music and dance is richly varied, representing the distinctive styles of the different groups that make up this desert land. The Langas ("song givers") and Manganiyars are groups of hereditary professional musicians whose music has been supported by wealthy landlords and aristocrats for generations. Their styles and repertoires differ, shaped by the tasted of their patrons. Though both communities are made up of Muslim musicians, many of their songs are in praise of Hindu deities and celebrate Hindu festivals such as Diwali and Holi. The Manganiyar performers traditionally invoke the Hindu god Krishna and seek his blessings before beginning their recital. At one time, the Manganiyars were musicians of the Rajput courts accompanying their chiefs to war and providing them with entertainment before and after the battles. The Langas, from the Barmer district of Rajasthan, seem to have converted from Hinduism to Islam in the 17th century. Traditionally, Sufi influences prevented them from using percussion instruments; however, the Langas are versatile players of the Sindhi sarangi and the algoza double flute. The Sindhi sarangi used by the Langas is made up of four main strings, with more than twenty vibrating sympathetic strings that help to create its distinctive haunting tones. The bowing of this instrument is often supported by the sound of the ghungroos (ankles bells) that are tied to the bow to make the beat more prominent.
The dances in tonight's concert come from the court tradition of Rajasthan and are performed during social ceremonies. The Kalapriya Dancers choreograph deft patterns with their hands and use movements of ghoomar. Ghoomar, a community dance of the Rajputs performed by the women of the house and traditionally out of bounds for men, uses simple swaying movements to convey the spirit of any auspicious occasion. There is an amazing grace as the skirts flare slowly while the women twirl in circles, their faces covered by the veil. The dances are performed to lyrics of the 16th century saint-poetess Meera, who sang about her spiritual love for the Lord Krishna.

+ About the Artists

Rajasthan's most renowned folk ensemble, Rupayan was founded by the late ethnomusicologist Komal Kothari for the preservation of folk culture and music, especially of the Manganiyar and Langa community. The group has performed in over 30 countries and toured Europe, the US and Brazil with Zingaro, the acclaimed equestrian show directed by Bartabas. Rupayan performed with Ravi Shankar in Belgium for the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation, and appeared at numerous festivals, including the Edinburgh Festival and the Asian Music Festival in Hong Kong.

Kalapriya Dance was founded in 1994 by noted dancer and teacher Pranita Jain, the "Dance Jewel of Rajasthan." In recent years Kalapriya has developed and produced several cross-cultural events incorporating various forms of music and dance in contemporary and traditional formats. Pranita Jain graduated from the Center for Indian Classical Dances in New Delhi and continued her training with Januna Krishnan, a leading choreographer in India. She came to the US in 1985, receiving a Masters degree in dance ethnography from the University of Illinois. She returns to India annually to perform and exchange ideas with other artists to keep enriching her knowledge of Indian dance and culture. She has performed nationally and is an eight-time recipient of the Master Teacher Award from the Illinois Arts Council. Recently, Ms. Jain was engaged to teach and choreograph for MTV pop star Shakira for the MTV video music award ceremony at Radio City Music Hall.

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