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Khelmel's Dance Of Diversity At Museum Of Fine Arts


To celebrate the Independence Day of India, community group Khelmel
presented a performance-workshop  *The Dance of Diversity:  Indian Music and Dance* at the Calderwood Courtyard, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, on Sunday Aug 24th.

In the lively dance suite highlighting India's diversity, Khelmel, incollaboration with Bhangra Beats Dance School presented the *Bhangra,Dandiya Raas, Kummi* and Bollywood dance styles. Khelmel was represented by Reshma Singh and Anuradha Saxena.

The *Bhangra-Giddha* item was presented by Khelmel in collaboration with the ladies of Indian Americans of Lexington: Anu Saxena,  Sangeeta G, Madhu Nene and Pat FitzGibbon. The audience loved their graceful dance resounding with the jingling of bangles and anklets! Many enthusiastically participated in the exuberant workshop that followed, in which Reshma interpreted life in the Punjabi village with *bolis* and teaching of dancesteps.

Khelmel interspersed the dance items with narratives that weaved the collections at the MFA with the myths and meanings of the dance forms. For instance, the sticks(*dandiya*s) of the dance represent the  sword of *Durga*slaying the demon*Mahishasura*,  represented by a sculpture that adorns the Indian gallery. Dandiya Raas was performed by Pujitha J, Namita, PenelopeSchnier and Neha Kavi. The audience also had an enjoyable opportunity to play *Dandiya *right there in the elegant, sunny MFA courtyard, reminiscent of  the*navratri *celebrations in Gujarat!
The *Kummi* dance form, beautifully performed by Jaskiran, Kavya Balaji,Tara Mehta and Sameera Mehta with its rhythmic clapping is  done at festivals such as Pongal to the sounds of the *nadaswaram* which is also on display at the  MFA music gallery. The final act was Bollywood dancing, so much  a part of the Indian psyche, with its heady mix of traditional andcontemporary,performed by Aishwarya Balaji, Avishee Gupta,Vrinda Agrawal and Rachel Madhur.

Several families headed afterwards to the Indian gallery, to solve the little "Find it at MFA" puzzles that Khelmel handed out, intrigued by the dances and their resonance with the museum collections. All in all, a beautiful day where education about Indian cultural roots went hand in hand with an engaging and entertaining presentation!

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