Stories by Hand, the journey of a solo woman seeking her identity through memories, takes the hand gestures of Bharatanatyam (classical Indian dance) dance as the basis for a storytelling dance interweaving east and west, past and present, and the mythic and the everyday. Bharatanatyam movements have always been in service of story, and while these were once devoted to sacred stories enacted by specially costumed young dancers in a temple, the elegant vocabulary of the codified hand gestures has proven over the ages to be a highly flexible one, with meanings that shift dramatically both with changes in their sequencing and in relation to the moving body.

The performance, having a more populist direction strips away the traditional trappings of the dance (strict codifications, costume, make-up, musical accompaniment) to create a more intimate and much less ceremonial experience. The soloist stands before the audience as a contemporary (Indian) woman living in New York City, and engages the audience directly in the stories she tells and enacts for them.

The stories are intimate, personal, vulnerable, provocative, and touch upon topics of displacement, identity and shifting spaces within our lives. These stories evolve out of the interplay of her hand gestures, the play of her eyes, and the stories she speaks. Her movements will create contingent spaces in which the stories can unfold, with her hands as timeless storytellers, conjuring the invisible protagonists in the space around her. In effect she holds the figures of her stories up for the audience to inspect with their inner eyes, her gestures serving to make the invisible visible. The story space on the minimally set stage will expand and contract around the soloist as she moves from ancient myths to her initial training in performing them, from the vastly different sensory experiences of India to America, from her body as vehicle for an ancient tradition, for modern dance, and even for the birth of her child.

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