Viswanath Kaladharan visited both Ross Lower School and Upper School campuses on September 13 to perform an extraordinary Kathakali dramatic dance. Kaladharan was trained at Kalamandalam Deemed Art and Culture University in Cheruthuruthy, India. The students at the Lower School attended an assembly during which the visitors were introduced and the students learned about Hindu culture. The classes then watched the performer as he transitioned into character, an elaborate process that involves very intricate makeup application as well as a spiritual passage from actor to character. Many of the students even had the opportunity to have the traditional makeup applied to their own faces. They learned about the significance of the different colors, specifically the color yellow, which was central to the performance and is a feminine color that depicts nobility, calmness, and tranquility.
On completion of the performer’s transition to a “new self,” the group moved to the Upper School to present a dramatic dance for the older students. The dance was an abbreviated interpretation of The Salvation of Putana, a popular story where the infant Krisna escapes death and sucks the life from the demoness Putana. Every aspect of the performance is extensively rehearsed, including specific facial expressions and gestures that portray the changing emotions of the character. The dance concluded with a dramatic portrayal of Putana’s death, and ultimately, her eternal salvation.
The performance, a culturally enriching experience for all audiences, was sponsored in part through the generosity of the Parents Association.