In its hour-long performance on Saturday, September 26 at 3 and 6 p.m., Mandala South Asian Performing Arts presents With Rumi, drawing inspiration from the work of Rumi, 13th century Persian poet, Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic. The work will be presented live for a limited audience (pending city and state restrictions due to the pandemic) and livestreamed for a digital audience at High Concept Labs, located at Mana Contemporary Chicago, 2233 S. Throop Street, Chicago.
With Rumi, conceptualized and choreographed by Mandala’s executive artistic director, Pranita Nayar, derives from Rumi’s forlorn description of lovers—tahwid—who are unable to experience transcendental “oneness” due to physical and emotional distance. Through her choreography, Nayar tells the lovers’ stories as well as recreates the lyrical shapes of their calligraphic appearance, joining the natural curves of Persian calligraphy with the angles of classical Bharatanatyam dance and the free flow of modern dance. The choreography is further devised by Moeka Osada and Ashwaty Chennat. A digital animation film by Aadit Arora bridges the dimensional gap between page and performance. An original score by Sufi composer Niloufar Nourbaksh accompanies the dance and film.
Rumi has greatly impacted the culture, art, and spirituality of Asia and the Middle East, influencing artists in a variety of disciplines. His lyricism and universal articulation of love and access to the divine serves as the basis for much Persian and Afghani music. His poetry is iconic in Persian art, where visually striking Farsi calligraphy adds graphic dynamism to the rich meaning of the text. With Rumi springs from an appreciation for the beauty of written language and recreates the flourishes of Farsi with the human body.
Nayar and her collaborators offer a new interpretation of Rumi’s poetry, its meaning, and its visual presentation in the transposition of an old story into a contemporary context.
Mandala Arts, founded by Pranita Nayar, offers audiences an evocative exploration of the dance, theater, and music forms of South Asia, from classical to contemporary. Performances and productions have a connection to ancient and classical traditions, ranging from the Indian Ocean to the Himalayas, from Persia to Indonesia. These practices evolve into the lived experiences of diaspora artists. Mandala is dedicated to sharing cultural exchanges and experiences through its Academy, company performances (Mandala Ensemble), and outreach programs. Mandala’s Ensemble artists bring their far-ranging aesthetics and vocabularies into the work. Mandala Arts has presented work at Chicago Symphony Center, Harris Theater, Logan Center for the Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Auditorium Theatre.
For more information about Mandala, visit mandalaarts.org.