“Don Quixote” : An Unforgettable Artistic Treat from Samskriti

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By Sanchali Basu

HOUSTON: Who does not remember reading, in their childhood, about the Adventures of Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza? The stories about this man from La Mancha, by Spanish playwright Cervantes in the 17th century, influenced the writings of many a novelist in the 19th century and later.

On September 20, at the Dunham Theater of the Houston Baptist University, Houstonians had the wonderful privilege of witnessing “Don Quixote” come to life through the medium of Indian classical dance, for the very first time. This artistic collaboration between Sahrdaya Foundation and Kalapeetham of India, and involving a group of 15 dancers, made a deep impact on the audience with the unique and excellent production.

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The performance commenced with the narrator giving us an introduction to the book and how the hidalgo’s obsession with reading led to a distortion of his perception and wavering of his mental faculties and he started believing every word of the fictional books of chivalry to be true. He does not see the world for what it is, and prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story. The famous ‘tilting with windmills’ scene where Don Quixote mistakes the windmills for giants, was one of the most breathtaking and brilliantly choreographed scenes in the dance drama. Impeccable and creative choreography, synchronization, precision and perfection were in display throughout the performance.

The excellent performances by Sheejith Krishna (Director & choreographer) in the role of Don Quixote and Madhusudanan as Sancho Panza were especially noteworthy. Akhila Ramnarayan, the Narrator, who was also responsible for the script, was exceptionally good at both.

The tales of Cardenio, Luscinda and Dulcinea were told through Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Kathak and contemporary dance forms. The Trojan Horse scene where the duke and duchess play an elaborate trick on the protagonists drew some laughter from the audience.

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The timeless tale was told with present day relevance combining multiple art forms. The areas of music, dance, audio visuals, props, theater and poetry were all par excellence. Bringing together the rich cultures and traditions of India and Spain, the program showcased the extraordinary versatility of India’s performance which are capable of engaging diverse audiences from around the world.

The Consul General of Spain, the Honorable Enric Panes Calpe, graced the occasion with his wife. According to one member of the audience, Dr. Moushumi Sur, “I am still replaying the sheer artistry of the compositions in my head. The seamless coming together of East and West, the medley of dance, song, drama and storytelling with magical technical light and sound support, made this an absolute delight to watch. I thank Samskriti for bringing such high quality shows to Houstonians”.

The next scheduled program, a two-in-one special, is “Fire and Ash” by Gowri Ramnarayan and “Dwita” by Rama & Daksshina Vaidyanathan, on Sunday, November 8, 2015. Please visit: www.samskritihouston.org for future event announcements and details.