A benefit dance event was held on November 5 at the US city of Kansas, to raise funds for flood-affected people of the USA and Bangladesh. Two dance dramas, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “Chandalika” were presented at Gem Theater of the city at the show titled “Born Equal”. The chief initiators of this event were City in Motion School of Dance and Sibghat Khan.
“Chandalika”, a dance-drama written by Rabindranath Tagore, was choreographed by Bangladeshi Manipuri dancer Rafia Rasu to be presented at the event. The story revolves around the complexities of human nature and its conflicting situation. The production is about bringing people together to cherish life and forget division among humankind. In the heart of America, the dance-drama was presented in a different contextual framework, rather than a traditional presentation. A diverse group of cast members of Kansas City presented this exclusive form of the dance drama.
People joined together from all around greater Kansas City area to produce this unique event. Through the artistry of dance and drama, this event shed light on daily struggle and social norms.
"The Yellow Wallpaper”, written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and choreographed by Krystal Bryan, tells the story of a woman controlled by her aloof but dominating husband. This dance drama highlights women's sufferings under the male-centric thinking and social norms in the late nineteenth century America.
Using the universal languages of dance, the message “born equal” was passed to all who may speak the same language and share the same culture. Diverse non-traditional cast members from different ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds, and orientations worked together as a team to exhibit a Tagore work in a correct way. Costumes, ornaments, stage setup were prepared by keeping Banglaee culture and tradition in mind. This was a learning experience for many of the non-Bengali artistes who came to know about Bangladesh and work of Tagore for the first time as Bangla dance dramas are not commonly displayed among mainstream events in the USA. Vigorous rhythmic dance monuments, Manipuri 'Baklai' barefoot and knee work, ankle bells, and exceptional lighting created a breathtaking moment amongst the audience. It took them to the enchanted land of ancient rural villages.
The 14-year old dancer Raia Khan as Chandalika and non-Bengali artiste Bao Hoang as Ananda performed exceptionally in the central roles of “Chandalika. The music for the production was by Asha Audio, stage manager was Crystal Crowley, stage set-up was done by Sibghat Khan and Javaria Ahmad. Faroque Hossain, Alexander Webber-Kamin, Tim Rumsower, Adyan Hossain, Sakif Islam, Leah Wilczewski and Hadassah Wilczewski were amongst others on the stage playing several other characters for the village scenes.