Through a massive Cirque du Soleil-style theatrical show, performing arts company Natya Nectar is set to deliver the wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita to audiences across India – before going to Broadway in New York and beyond.
Founded by Goura Prema Riggan, a second-generation devotee, Natya Nectar is a Delhi-based professional dance company that has found considerable success in India. The group has appeared on India’s Got Talent, performed at Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bhacchan’s 70th birthday party, and opened for American music star Lady Gaga.
But after a life-threatening car accident that nearly ended her career as a dancer, Goura Prema found the impetus to present her art in a deeper, more meaningful way, raising consciousness and imparting the spiritual knowledge she grew up with.
Natya Nectar’s first step in this direction was “Bhumi,” a production intended to raise environmental awareness and respect for Mother Earth. A big success, it received standing ovations across India.
Natya Nectar perform 'Bhumi', promoting respect for Mother Earth
Now in March 2019, Natya Nectar is set to perform “Reflections” at the Royal Opera House in Mumbai. Also written during Goura Prema’s deeply challenging recovery, it is inspired by the solace and healing she found from reading Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
“My goal is that the devotional messages in Reflections will also give our audiences a sense of hope and the wisdom to overcome their own challenges in life,” she says.
Reflections is a musical dance drama that illustrates the journey of a Jiva, or living being, as he battles the six enemies of the mind: lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride and jealousy. When he finds himself in a place of complete helplessness and surrenders to God, Krishna appears to him in a dream. In the dream, the Jiva becomes Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, and Krishna speaks the wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita to him, guiding him to self-realization.
Reflections will be performed by an international cast of fifteen, Bali Rico from the Mayapuris as the Jiva; actor and Ayurvedic practitioner Vasu Dudakia as Krishna; and Goura Prema as Maya. Meanwhile Natya Nectar dancers will enact the six enemies of the mind.
The journey of the Jiva and wisdom of the Gita will be portrayed through Kathak, Bharatanatyam and contemporary dance; acrobatics; Indian classical music; and an East-meets-West score by Grammy-nominated artist Chaytanya Nitai. Bali Rico as the Jiva will use his hip-hop skills to deliver rhyming spoken word poetry to music, poeticizing verses from the Bhagavad-gita.
The unique element of the show will be holographic visual mapping on giant screens, creating a 3D environment that makes it look like the performer is immersed within the visuals.
“For instance, when the Jiva is completely stuck in his mind before his spiritual awakening moment, he will be raving, ‘Who am I? What am I here for? What’s happening to me, I’m suffering!’ And the visual mapping will show his own words circling him like a tornado,” Goura says.
“In another scene, when Krishna gives Maya the service of bewildering the living entity, the screens will create the illusion of her falling from the spiritual world down onto the streets of Time Square.”
Reflections will culminate with a grand finale featuring Jiv Jago (“Wake up sleeping soul”) sung by a choir, and live chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra with the audience.
After the performance, the Bhagavad-gita As It is will be available to purchase so that people can take it home and start bringing it into their everyday lives.
Natya Nectar combines dance and classical music
To create a two-day transformative experience, Vasu Dudakia will also give an Ayurvedic course the day before the show, extolling the benefits of an Ahimsa vegetarian diet and other lifestyle changes inspired by the message of the Gita.
Following its debut in Mumbai, Reflections will be toured around India and then the world. The cast and crew hope it will change others’ lives as much as it has changed theirs.
“This project has personally transformed me, helping me move deeper into my own practice and sadhana, and the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita and Srila Prabhupada,” Vasu says. “When you take the messages that have been given to us by Prabhupada and our acharyas and package it in a modern context like this, it can have a really powerful effect.”
Likewise, Goura Prema says that her sadhana practice has now become the most important thing in her life. “I was losing my sense of self in the entertainment industry,” she explains. “But in this project I’ve found myself, and have been able to surrender myself to Krishna as an instrument for His message.”
Natya Nectar after a performance in Mumbai (Goura Prema in the center with blonde hair)
Working on Reflections has also completely changed the life of its contemporary dance choreographer, who hails from New York and never had any previous connection with Krishna consciousness. “She has started to practice yoga and meditation, and is reading the Bhagavad-gita,” Goura says.
The show aims to deliver deep spiritual wisdom in an understandable, relatable way, and Goura hopes it will have a similar impact on audiences from all walks of life.
“I’d like it to instill a message of hope, and of getting in touch with ourselves,” she says. “We’re so concerned about the external – what we’re wearing, what our bodies look like. We’d like to turn that around and inspire people to go inside, cleanse the mirror of the mind with chanting and meditation, and find out who the real self is.”
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Because Natya Nectar are delivering a spiritual message with “Reflections,” they must rely on donations rather than their usual commercial sponsors. If you support the show’s goals, please donate a thttps://www.indiegogo.com/projects/natya-nectar-reflections-fundraiser#/.A percentage of all your donations will go to FFLV to educate underprivileged children of Vrindavan.
If you are a devotee with skills in dancing and music and would like to be a part of Reflections, please contact Goura Prema at firstname.lastname@example.org.[ broadway ] [ dance ] [ natya ] [ nectar ] [ theater ]