Bharata by Ganesh Vasudeva

Ganesh Vasudeva presented his Bharata – The Quintessential Male Dancer, at the Counter Pulse Theater in San Francisco on April 11, 2015. The space provided a heightened art experience, with its all-black interior, elevated seating for the audience, and acoustics-for-the-arts.

Ganesh connected with the audience right away, apologizing for taking us away from a beautiful day but promising to make up for it through his presentation. The first piece was Gangavatarana, Descent of the Ganges, in Poorvi Kalyani based on Gangadhara by Mysore Sadashiva Rao. The introduction was unusual, since contrary to the hero theme, Ganesh chose to unveil the heroine’s – Ganga’s – perspective. He has presented this piece before, but it remains fresh as there are three characters, lots of drama, and several emotional layers. The depiction of variety of flowing waters really stood out – powerful, bouncing, trickling – with the final arrest in Shiva’s matted locks. The interaction between Shiva and Ganga is truly a delight; highlights being His tight gyrations swirling around her furious currents; her trickery in reaction to His power; His intoxication with the rippling water on His face.

There is scope to further heighten the effect of Ganga’s growing alarm – at most times, Ganesh shows her reacting logically, but there has to be a crescendo of fight before she is totally dreadlocked. This one “moment of truth” did come through later with Ganesh’s Bhagiratha; there was an exquisite expression of complete surrender and infinite gratitude when he realizes that Ganga’s powerful waters have been tamed.

Ganesh portrayed Kanaka Dasa’s Bagilanu Teredu next, which was sprinkled with little innovative touches, such as the depiction of Hiranyakashipu’s adoration for his son Prahlada, the dismissive Brahmins at the temple, and carrying on with the story and emotion during tattimettu. The interaction between father and son came alive, the former’s confident denial of a higher power contrasting well with the son’s staunch belief in it. Kanaka Dasa’s pleas also rang true. It was moving to see the western wall crumble and the idol turning around. The only improvements in this piece are that Narasimha’s appearance needed some musical emphasis and the portrayal of the Krishna idol could be positioned better, to where the audience expects it – stage front instead of at the back.  GaneshVasudeva

(full review at

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