In 2022, Mythili created a Trilogy of pieces initiated by a commission by Jacob’s Pillow for the program “American(a) – to me” celebrating the 90th Jacob’s Pillow Festival and the inauguration of the newly renovated Ted Shawn Theatre. The three pieces are different explorations of the following myth:
Shiva invites his “other half” – Kali – to a dance competition. When Kali is undefeatable, Shiva creates the illusion of dropping his earring, disrupting the competition. He lifts it with his toe, and raises his leg to his ear, replacing the earring, while performing this formidable pose. Kali, though equally skilled, bound by the constructs of her femininity (a woman shouldn’t raise her leg!), surrenders. And Shiva wins the competition.
Can we re-imagine this story?
AR | DHA
Ardhanari is the fused form of the male God Shiva and the female God Shakti (Kali) and is celebrated as a symbol of liminal space, oneness, and inclusivity. Reflecting on the power dynamics in the name itself, Ardhanari or “half-woman” (where the half-man seems to be implied), AR | DHA examines notions of division, polarity, equity and acceptability through the re-imagining of a popular myth: the dance competition between Gods Shiva and Kali.
Choreography: Mythili Prakash
Poetry: Perumal Murugan
Music Composition: Aditya Prakash, ganavya doraiswamy
Lighting Design: Mike Faba
Performed by: Mythili Prakash (dance), Sushma Soma (vocal), Rajna Swaminathan (percussion), ganavya doraiswamy (vocal & double bass), Kasi Aysola (nattuvangam)
POO | POO
In Tamizh, “Poo” means flower.
In English, “Poo” means shit.
As children of Immigrants, we are at once Eastern and Western, marginalized and privileged. As artists of a classical tradition, we are practitioners of a form that is at once beautiful and oppressive, harmonious and conflicting. How can we negotiate the tension and fluidity of being at once this AND that?
The re-imagining of a myth – The dance off between Gods Kali and Shiva – becomes a vehicle for the re-defining of our roles as performers embodying past and present, and moving between distinctions of stylized and pedestrian, dancer and musician, choreographed and improvised. The process of creating the piece has in many ways become the piece itself – questions of “acceptability” that emerged in creation finding themselves into the content of the work.
Conceived, Researched and Created by: Mythili Prakash, Sushma Soma, Aditya Prakash, Rajna Swaminathan, ganavya Doraiswamy
Lighting Design: Mike Faba
Presented by: Indo-American Arts Council, New York
ONE | ALL
Commissioned and created for the “Future of Movement” Festival curated by Benjamin Millepied and Nico Muhly around the FIFA World Cup, ONE | ALL by choreographer Mythili Prakash explores, celebrates, and challenges the ideals of a “match” through the context of an ancient Indian myth: The Dance off between Gods Shiva and Kali.
Prakash asks, Can we re-imagine this story?
Why is a One All score not an acceptable conclusion to a match? Must there always be victory and defeat? Is equity not worthy of celebration? What does this say about our societal values?
In her re-telling:
Shiva lifts his leg. Kali lifts her leg too.
The competition continues. In fact, after sometime there is no competition, no competitors. They lose themselves in the dance, in each other. All boundaries fall away – they dance fusing their forms into ONE.
The making of this work has been supported by Hawkwood CT (UK), and Sky Arts in collaboration with Akram Khan Company (UK).
Concept & Choreography: Mythili Prakash
Sound Design: Mythili Prakash, Aditya Prakash
Performed by: Mythili Prakash (dance), Aditya Prakash (vocal), Sushma Soma (vocal), Nina Harries (Double Bass), Prathap Ramachandran (percussion)