In Hindu cosmology, the supreme deity, Vishnu, manifests in numerous different incarnations. These incarnations represent different facets of the divine, and the tale of Vishnus adventures in each guise provides a different moral rule for believers. One of the most popular incarnations is that of Narasimha, the half-man, half-lion incarnation Vishnu assumes in order to fell an arrogant king. The king, Hiranyakashyapu, counts himself an enemy of Vishnu and attempts to indoctrinate his son, Prahlada, with the same hatred. Prahlada, however, is faithful to Vishnu and refuses to be turned against the deity, even asserting that Vishnu is in every object. Hiranyakashyapu then questions his son angrily and asks if Vishnu is in a nearby pillar; Prahlada responds that He was, He is, and He will be, which drives his father to smash the pillar in rage. Narasimha appears from the shattered pillar and ends Hiranyakashyapus folly. This dramatic tale of faith in the face of adversity is the inspiration for Narasimha, a traditional dance piece that will be performed at A Magical Gala of Indian Dance, the 30th anniversary celebration of Dances of India. In honor of the auspicious anniversary, Dances of Indias performers partner with dancers from Viva Flamenco, Diva La Tap and the Dance CO of St. Charles to create An Incantation of Incarnation: The Ten Wondrous Lives of Vishnu, a fusion of modern and traditional dance styles that illustrates the ten principal avatars of Vishnu. Incantation blends the classical Indian tales with Western classical music, such as Ravels Bolero and Strauss Tales of the Vienna Woods. All in all, a suitably big blowout for a 30th anniversary. A Magical Gala of Indian Dance takes place at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (October 19 through 21) at the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-997-0911). Tickets are $15 to $20.
Oct. 19-21, 2007