'Mystic India' Enlightens Sandler Center
By: Amy Poulter
Stepping through the doors of the Sandler Center’s Performance Hall Friday night could have made you believe you had been transported to South Asia. The rich smells of cardamom and turmeric wafted down from the third floor where Saffron, a local Indian Bistro, had set up a catering table.
Women wearing beautifully colored, traditional saris made their way to the performance hall entrance, smiles on their faces and excitement in their voices.
Groups of attendees eagerly waited to be ushered to their seats.
People of all ages and ethnicities had gathered to watch Mystic India, a celebration of Indian dance and culture spanning from traditional to modern.
The 1,200-seat theater was almost full. Children were bouncing in their seats, waiting for the show to begin.
When the house lights finally dimmed, music started playing and the soft glow of golden rays slowly illuminated the hall. A massive tapestry of Ganesha, the Indian God of wisdom, knowledge and new beginnings, hung from the back of the stage.
The evening’s host greeted the guests and described India as the “land of dreams and romance.” Barefoot dancers dressed in ornate orange and gold costumes rushed to the stage to honor Ganesha. Six women in matching saris made their way through the aisles of the audience. The dancing had begun and every eye was fixed on the stage.
After celebrating Ganesha, the host described a tradition known as the Holi Festival of Colors. The backdrop behind him twinkled like a starlit sky. Dancers on stage were chasing each other in fast circles throwing gulal, a colored powder made from flower petals, on one another.
Suddenly, the lights darkened and neon-clad men and women filled the stage, blacklights pulsing to the beat of electronic-style music. Strobe lights flashed through the rainbow into the audience. Twenty dancers electrified the stage with hip-hop elements infused with their traditional dances.
Sandler Center was transformed into a club, and members of the audience were dancing along in their seats.
After the pounding bass had died down, we began to travel through India’s regions by way of folk dancing. Explosions of color once again shone from the spotlights. A dozen women graced the stage, dancing to the music of hand drums and wooden flutes. Their anklets, adorned with tiny bells, were ringing through the theater.
Soon, Bollywood took over the show, and the host elaborated on the delicately designed costumes saying, “No detail is ever left to chance in India.”
Quickly rotating through upbeat songs and vibrant costumes, India’s most popular Bollywood hits reverberated off the walls. Girls danced through the orchestra pit with ease. People in the audience were singing and clapping along.
Mystic India is not only a dance show, but also a lesson in culture, drenched in the country’s rich history.
When the strobing lights faded behind the curtain, cannons blasted steamers over the crowd. Though the show had ended, the dancing throughout the audience continued.