Sonoma State University is hosting a pair of premieres at the Green Music Center with the world premiere of Leela Dance Collective's kathak dance drama "Son of the Wind" at Weill Hall on April 8 and the West Coast premiere of the restored 1948 Hindi film "Kalpana" in Schroeder Hall on April 7.
"Son of the Wind" brings to life the ancient Indian poem of Ramayana focusing on its hidden hero, Hanuman, the son of the mighty wind god. Through his mischievous ingenuity and indomitable vigor, Hanuman proves to be an integral force in the rescue of the kidnapped princess Sita and the defeat of the arrogant King Ravan.
"The dancing is incredible and the story they portray through the way they move their bodies is remarkable," says Ajay Gehlawat, a Sonoma State University film studies professor who helped coordinate the event.
Leela Dance is a collective that brings together leading kathak dance artists to create new art grounded in Indian dance tradition with bold innovation. Kathak is a regional Indian dance style traveling storytellers used to tell a unique story through the art of dance.
The weekend will also feature the West Coast premiere of the restored version of Uday Shankar's 1948 film "Kalpana," the first Indian film to have dances especially choreographed for the camera. "It creates these amazing dance sequences that are like nothing I have seen before," says Gehlawat.
Uday, older brother of musician Ravi Shankar, wrote, directed and starred in the surreal film, which revolves around a young dancer's dream of opening his own academy.
The film was thought to be lost due to time and degradation but was restored in 2008 by Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project. "It is also a genuine dance film, in other words, a film that isn't just about dance, but is dancing, movement and energy," says Scorsese in the intro to the restored version.
The University is also hosting an international symposium on the evolution of song and dance in Hindi cinema on April 8 beginning at 9 a.m. in the Alexander Valley Room in the Student Center. The symposium features a group of internationally renowned scholars who will discuss the historical role that song and dance has played, and continues to play, in the cinema now known as Bollywood. The symposium is free and open to the public.
"To have even one of these scholars would be amazing, but to have them all together at Sonoma State is an incredible privilege," says Gehlawat.
Leela Dance's "Son of the Wind" is Saturday, Apr. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Weill Hall. "Kalpana" is Friday, Apr. 7 at 7 p.m. in Schroeder Hall. For more information and for tickets, visit gmc.sonoma.edu.