Rhythms of India celebrated in Ta Ki Ta

Melanie Piorecky performs a Bharatanatyam pose. The local dancer and instructor is presenting a night of Indian classical dance and music in Ta Ki Ta at the Powerhouse Theatre in Vernon, Saturday, May 24. - Photo submitted
Melanie Piorecky performs a Bharatanatyam pose. The local dancer and instructor is presenting a night of Indian classical dance and music in Ta Ki Ta at the Powerhouse Theatre in Vernon, Saturday, May 24.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Those who have ever wanted to take in the exotic sights, sounds and tastes of India don’t have to buy a plane ticket to visit the South Asian nation.

Ta Ki Ta is an evening of classical Indian dance and music combined with a fusion of Bollywood and bhangra styles, with some sweet and aromatic foods to help it all go down.

The show takes place at Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre, Saturday, May 24.

Ta Ki Ta, which is a rhythm done with a drum or foot in classical Indian dance and music, features a number of local and visiting artists whose aim is to keep it light while also providing a look at the true classical form and educating the audience in the process, said event organizer Melanie Piorecky, whose own Ananda Dance will perform at the event.

“Pure classical Indian dance and music can be hard to understand or appreciate for people who have not been exposed to it,” she said. “Indian music has a unique rhythmic cycle, with counts of three, 7 and even 14 being possible. And the dances tell stories of gods and goddesses from Hinduism, not a typical part of our western experience.”

Piorecky became interested in classical Indian dance after attending a workshop in Bharatanatyam, a form of dance from Southern India, with former Vernon resident Devaki Thomas.

“I had done a bit of formal dance lessons before, but not much. The movements of Bharatanatyam felt natural and beautiful, and 15 years later I am still dancing after seeking out teachers in Calgary, Chennai, India, and Vancouver,” said Piorecky.

After completing her graduation or “arangetram,” an intense two-hour performance with live music, in Calgary in 2007, Piorecky began to teach and choreograph the art form, and formed the Ananda Dance in Vernon.

“Bharatanatyam has been the style I have learned and love. It represents the element of fire,” she said. “I do recognize the lack of a south Indian audience to fully understand the pure classical pieces, so I have created shorter, more upbeat items using my style as the base and incorporating Bollywood.”

Piorecky’s first teacher, Thomas, a founder of the Komasket Music Festival and well known in the Okanagan as percussionist/singer with the band Samsara, is returning to Vernon to perform at the show.

Thomas will feature a dance she has been studying in London, England the past three years, the ancient statuesque form of Odissi from India’s eastern province of Orissa.

“She has an intimate understanding of Indian dance and music from her lifetime of playing and dancing,” said Piorecky. “The Odissi form represents the element of water, and has a beautiful flow and sensual curves of body and hands.”

Also performing is South African-born dancer Trisha Rampersad, who is now based in Vancouver and performs the classical dance of Kathak.

“Kathak is Persian influenced, as seen in the costume, and involves story telling, spinning really fast, and intricate footwork to unique rhythmic cycles,” said Piorecky.

Other dancers include Jenny Rae Waters, who has studied tribal belly dance as well as classical Indian dance with Thomas and now Piorecky, Marie Articus and Terra MacDonald, who both dance Bharatnatyam with Ananda Dance, and Joy Farr, of Lumby, who will perform a tribal belly dance, which fuses folkloric styles from the Middle East, North African, Spain, and India.

The Vernon Punjabi Heritage Society will kick things up with a lively folk dance known as bhangra, originated in the area of Punjab, a northern province in India.

Musical performers include sitar player James Hamilton, who has spent more than 25 years studying the music of South Asia and particularly India, percussionist/bassist/keyboardist Jacob Chatterton, also formerly of Samsara, and Daniel Stark on the sarod, a lute-like stringed instrument used in classical Indian music.

“Combined with percussion and the sarod, it will create a wonderful ambiance and the right energy to start the show. We are also performing some dances to the live music,” said Piorecky.

Serving as master of ceremonies is Sharmila Acharya, who is no stranger to Indian classical dance having danced for more than 10 years including in India. Those who purchase a ticket can also enjoy a combination of samosas, pakoras, chutney, sweets and chai tea.

“I wanted to include this with the show because the Indian way is to be hostly, feeding anyone who comes – another thing I love about Indian culture, in addition to its dance,” said Piorecky.

The May 24 performance of Ta Ki Ta takes place at 7 p.m. at the Powerhouse Theatre on 35th Avenue. Tickets are $35/adult, $20/12 and under, at the Ticket Seller. Call 250-549-7469 or order at ticketseller.ca.


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