My World Changed After I Experienced Panch Kanya
by Jasmine Cordero
I heard about a performance called Panch Kanya, and decided to participate in some way, even though I wasn't entirely sure what it was. After doing some research, I discovered that it is a story about five gods whom were sisters, and are celebrated in the Hindu religion. The show started out with performers doing what’s called an Odissi dance.
Odissi is an ancient classical dance that originated in the Hindu temples of Odisha. The technique was great, it was full of performers making different facial expressions that told a story of fear, anger, happiness and mischief. The dance lasted for hours with different variations of music and colorful backdrops. The Odissi dance embraces the culture of India and celebrated women.
I was the photographer and my role was to capture great pictures of the performance, backstage hair & makeup, and rehearsal. I arrived at 1:00pm sharp to find the dancers in rehearsal. There wasn’t much time to introduce myself to the dancers as they were practicing last minute moves. The dances were mostly in groups so everyone had to work together to find out where there marks were. I could tell they all respected each other because no one argued when one woman took charge and made last minute changes. As I sat down to watch their routine, a few of the girls had to pretend they were raging bulls and all huddled around one girl. Her facial expression was incredible - she looked scared and proceeded to dance to the other side of the stage escaping the bull. I was so enthralled with their routine that I almost forgot to hit the shutter button.
After rehearsal the girls had thirty minutes to get hair and makeup done. The dancers all raced into the dressing room to open up their makeup bags and dust off the makeup brushes. I introduced myself to all of the dancers and began taking pictures. Their makeup consisted of different colored eye shadows and blush that made their faces look vibrant. Their suitcases had hair accessories and hairspray that they had no problem sharing. The dressing room was a little chaotic a few of the dancers still needed to get dressed but had to be on stage in two minutes and one women had misplaced her false eyelashes. However, before they went onstage, a prayer circle started and everyone stood in silence holding hands while they “exchanged energy.”
The show started with a girl dressed in a yellow and blue Sari - a traditional Indian dress that is several yards long that is wrapped around the waist and over the shoulder exposing the midriff. Four other girls whom were wearing red and black Saree followed her. They interpreted a story told by a narrator about a dice game gone wrong. I was exposed to different style of dances such as hip-hop, salsa and bachata but I was never exposed to a traditional and cultural dance. Photographing the Panch Kanya event was a great experience and it taught me about the Indian culture.