Award-winning dance company celebrates Indian heritage, culture

Mystic India dance company performed on campus on Saturday April 15. The company merges past and present Indian culture in their brilliantly choreographed dances. The performance was the final show in Geneseo Campus Activities Board’s Limelight and Accents series. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

Hosted by Limelight and Accents, the award-winning Mystic India dance company blew Geneseo audiences away with a high-energy performance on Saturday April 15. 

The company uses a combination of traditional Indian dance and modern movement, and founder Amit Shah maintains the company by incorporating new Western influences as the company grows. 

Mystic India has received international acclaim in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia as the first United States-based Indian dance company to make this kind of impact on such a large scale. Famous Bollywood icon Farah Khan praises Mystic India, describing their performances as “visually grand and dynamic” and “a kaleidoscope of color and beauty.”

“Their choreography is even better than in the films,” Khan said.

There were several sections to Mystic India’s showing in Geneseo, each showcasing a different facet of Indian culture. Live narration was given before each piece to explain the story behind the dancers’ movements. 

The show opened with the story of Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles. Ganesha is the Indian god of wisdom; over the years, he has become a common symbol of Hinduism. Dancers came on stage in beautifully elaborate and colorful traditional Indian clothing. The dance itself was traditional, with cultural music and movements. The women wore bells on their ankles, which made their movements percussive and attention grabbing. 

The next piece was based on Holi, the festival of color in which children throw colored powder at each other in a celebration of color and life. The dancers in this number wore different colored costumes and threw glitter at each other and even into the audience. 

The next two parts of the performance were dance numbers that doubled as scenes of a play, the first of which told the story of Radha Krishna, two Hindu gods that represent masculinity and femininity. The performers—as well as the live narrator—did a beautiful job of portraying this love story and the classic Indian folktale. 

The second part was a recreation of the history of King Akbar, the third ruler of India during the Mughal Dynasty. He is known as a force of equality because he created his own religion: “a religion of God.” 

Soon, the dancers returned to the stage with explosive energy. In this section, they portrayed the different subcultures among the villages of India, illustrating both the similarities and differences between these Indian cultures. The style of dancing, tempo and clothing varied for each subculture, and the dance incorporated Bhangra, a style of dance traditional to the Punjab region of India typically performed to the beat of a drum.

The performance then morphed into a much more modern form of dance. The performance became Westernized, but still showcased Bollywood culture. The choreography and costuming also appeared to be more sexualized and flashy, showing how Western ideas and modern pop culture has been integrated into traditional Indian culture. 

Mystic India was a spectacular show with an eclectic collection of numbers. The choreography, music and beautiful performers took the audience on a stunning journey through Indian culture and history.