Dancers in bright, sparkling costumes spun, dipped and bowed across the stage at Staring Lake Amphitheatre on June 28 as part of the Starring at Staring summer performance series.
Around 200 people gathered on the grassy terraces to watch the performance featuring South Indian Tamil music and dance, put on by the Minnesota Tamil Sangam. The organization received a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to invite five professional musicians from India to Minnesota, said executive committee president Sundaramoorthy Adhiyagavel. Four of them performed at Staring and all have taught over 100 students in the few weeks of their visit, he added.
Performers displayed 10 different dances over 90 minutes, from the heavily-costumed peacock dancers of the Mayilattam to the Karagattam, or “water pot dance,” performed with a pot balanced on the head. Each dance was accompanied by musicians playing the nayanam wind instrument and pambai and urumi percussion drums.
“This particular art has been found in India for more than 1,000 years,” said Priya Krishnan, a board member of the Minnesota Tamil Sangam. She and Mercy Sebastin, another board member, had been concerned that the event would be rained out earlier in the week and was glad that the sun came out for the performance.
“We were constantly checking the weather,” Krishnan laughed.
The Starring at Staring series will continue throughout the summer, with performances at the amphitheater every Friday at 7 p.m. A Beatles’ tribute band will perform on July 5.