Audience members have diverse motivations for attending arts performances; most hope to be entertained, some expect inspiration, and others seek enlightenment. Each of these anticipated outcomes can be fulfilled by “Kathakaar, the Spining Storyteller,” Darke County Center for the Arts’ upcoming Coffeehouse Series presentation at Union City’s Arts Depot on Thursday, Nov. 1. This unique show features dancer/storyteller, or Kathakaar, Jin Won exploring the multicultural history of India through Kathak, a native form of classical dance with origins dating back to 400 B.C.E.
While many people are enthusiastic about the prospect of attending a performance about which they know little, others find their own fear of the unknown somewhat off-putting. For those who feel insecure about understanding what they might witness at a performance featuring an art form they’ve probably never heard of, Jin Won’s interactive presentation will offer insight into Kathak as well as share its energy and beauty.
Kathak, meant to arouse joy in the spectator, has been passed down from one generation to the next throughout India’s long history, although it declined during the colonial British era when it was ridiculed and defamed. However, as India gained independence, its people sought to recover their ancient roots and develop their own unique national identity through the arts, resulting in renewed interest in the art form. In Kathak, expressive gestures and pantomime set to music outline a legend or a well-known story, conveying the emotions and mood of the underlying plot. Ideas are expressed through body movements, song, costume, and the performing artist’s emotional connection with the story and the audience.
According to Wikipedia, in all Indian classical dance forms the viewer is presented with pure movement emphasizing beauty, form, speed, range, and pattern to engage the senses of the audience. Kathak attempts to communicate feelings in a storyline that often expresses spiritual themes, sometimes expanding to include words and musical notes to articulate a legend or message, thus becoming more than sensory enjoyment by also engaging the emotions and mind of the viewer. That description pretty much sums up what it means to be entertained, inspired, and enlightened – fulfilling expectations for all audience members in one fascinating performance.
“Kathakaar—The Spinning Storyteller” will also be performed as part of DCCA’s Arts In Education program, and will be presented for kindergarten through third grade students in all local public schools during the week of Oct. 29 through Nov. 2; these performances are free and open to the public. The Coffeehouse Series performance will, of course, be aimed at adults, but can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. The cozy atmosphere of the Arts Depot provides an intimate performance space that enhances interaction between artist and audience, inspiring a feeling of connection that adds to the concert’s lingering effects. The show starts at 7 p.m.; tickets are $10, and can be obtained by contacting DCCA at 937-547-0908 or [email protected]; tickets are also available online at www.darkecountyarts.org and will be sold at the door if any remain by showtime.