Ballet Shri Ram by IAA and Shriram Bhartiya Kalakendra, Delhi


By Hari Dayal

HOUSTON: Indo-American Association (IAA) presented Ballet Shri Ram by Shriram Bhartiya Kalakendra, Delhi, on Friday November 8 at the Jones Hall in Houston’s Theater District.  The production has done more than 3,000 performances around the globe, but this was the first time it played in Houston. IAA is proud to have brought this masterpiece to Houston in celebration of its twenty year journey of presenting cultural arts of India in the American context.

Shriram Bhartiya Kalakendra’s Ballet Shri Ram narrates the Ram Katha, the story of Ram, as found in Maharishi Valmiki’s Ramayan and the Ram Charit Manas of Goswami Tulsi Das. Ram is an integral part of the Hindu ethos; he is part of every breath we take. He is a paragon of virtues- the maryada purshottam– and we aspire to emulate him.

Ram Katha or Ram Leela is presented in every village and town across India in one form or another. The Indian-Americans have understandably tried to preserve the tradition by presenting it in various styles and it adequately serves the spiritual purpose.  What is unique about the Shri Ram presented by IAA is the synergy of arts and spirituality. This production, with a history of fifty six years, presents RAMAYAN as a ballet, as an art form!

Ballet Shri Ram at Jones Hall narrated in two hours the complete story of RAMAYAN- birth of Ram, education, Sita’s swayamvara, Dashrath’s desire to coronate Ram and Kaikayee’s plot to banish Ram to the forest for fourteen years, Dashrath’s death, Ram, Sita, and Lakshman finding abode in Panchwati, Sita’s abduction by Ravan, Ram aided by Hanuman and his monkey army invading Ravan, killing of Ravan, Sita reunited with Ram, Ram’s return to Ayodhya after fourteen years in the forest, Ram’s coronation and establishment of Ram Rajya- a society with compassion and justice for all.

The audience was spellbound as the ballet played out scene by scene and the story unfolded. Of course, the story was told by the medium of soulful music and meticulously choreographed dances. To do justice to the variety of situations and moods of the story, the master choreographer Shashdharan Nair used so many different Indian dance styles- Bharat Natyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Mayurbhanj Chhau, Kallayari Pattam, and folk dances of various regions of India. While all the dancers did a super job, the Mayurbhanj Chhau sequences in combat scenes were breathtaking. And, choreographer Shashdharan Nair who played Ravan took the cake as a Kathakali dancer!

The Ballet Shri Ram was spiritually entertaining and a journey down the memory lane for the audience who grew up with RAMAYAN. For the younger audiences, specially targeted by IAA, it was fun, it was entertaining, and yes, it was educational. IAA feels it fulfilled its mission by presenting ballet Shri Ram and specially thanks the many Sponsors who financially supported the project.

IAA concludes its 2013 season by a very special Qawwali program ISHQ-e-HAQIQI (Love of God) on Saturday November 23.

For further details visit, or call 281.648.0422.