On a journey with Krishna

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Swastik Institutes of Dance Australia

The latest production from the Swastik Institute of Dance is set in two time periods—the ancient and the modern—blurring the lines between mythology and contemporary

Lord Krishna is the most popular of all Hindu deities and he has followers in both the Eastern and Western parts of the world. He is known and revered for his worldly knowledge and his cheeky demeanour. He has always been an enigma who has been considered a leader, a hero, a protector, a philosopher, a teacher and friend all rolled into one. Krishna has influenced the Indian way of life and culture in many different ways. His influence extends beyond the realm of religion into almost all aspects of the Indian folklore from literature to painting and sculpture, to dance and music. He is known to explain the intricacies and the complexities of life in the most mundane and simple manner.

Sumati Lekhi, the artistic director of Swastik Institute of Dance, has taken these qualities of Krishna and embedded them in a current scenario. Moving to foreign shores brings with it trauma of separation and loneliness. The plot of the dance-drama revolves around nine-year-old Sunaina who has just moved from Mumbai to Sydney with her family. Though her family is thrilled at the aspect of starting a new life, Sunaina is struggling with the many changes—both cultural and emotional—she misses her friends back in India. And as she is grappling with these tussles, something magical happens.

Sumati Lekhi is proud of her home production as it showcases the varied talents of her students ranging between the ages of 4 and 30. “As we depict the various milestones of Krishna’s life—his birth, childhood, teenage years and adulthood, culminating in the defeat of his evil Uncle Kans—we get to see these children and teenagers perform different aspects of Krishna’s life. Furthermore, the play has been timed to coincide on Janmashtami, the annual celebration of Lord Krishna’s birth, making it a very topical production,” she says.

The story will take the audience on a journey through two different time periods—the ancient and the modern—during the times when Krishna was born to the present time, amalgamating the mythical with the actual. When asked if the story is a fictional one, Sumati says, “While not specifically based on anyone, this contemporary plot is loosely based on the various experiences and observations of the creative team behind the show.”

She explains that by blurring the lines between the mythological and the contemporary, A Magical Journey with Krishna aims to bridge the gap between the new and the old, between the modern and the esoteric. “This magical journey aims to show the audience that the teachings of Krishna are cross generational and they are as relevant today as they were centuries ago,” she says. As he takes Sunaina on a journey, the wisdom he imparts will resonant with the audience of today. When asked if the character of Krishna is seen as a reflection of the real or just a mythical one, Sumati says, “The character of Krishna is somewhat ambiguous. Whether he is the actual divinity or whether he’s a projection of Sunaina’s mind is immaterial.”

Krishna appears in Sunaina’s life when she is in a state of turmoil after being uprooted from her familiar surrounds and her close friends in India to a foreign land. Krishna intends to put to rest her intimidated and confused mind by telling her about his upbringing, drawing parallels between his life and hers. With the ‘Krishna’ charm he explains to her that the best way to deal with life’s challenges is by being strong and courageous.

A Magical Journey with Krishna will be performed only for one night and is poised to become the must-watch show of the season. This not to be missed show in all its spectacular glory will be staged on 27 August at Riverside Theatre in Parramatta. Tickets are available at www.MagicalJourneyWithKrishna.com.

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