The world premiere of the contemporary ballet There’s No Place Like Home is a vibrant and enchanting performance. It is set to debut at the Carmel, Indiana Center for the Performing Arts on October 28-30, 2021. It is a story about a Kansas boy who journeys to India looking for meaning and purpose in life. The plot parallels the Wizard of Oz, where the Scarecrow wants a brain, the Woodman seeks a heart, and the Cowardly Lion desires courage. And like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, the audience is shown that there’s no place like home, which is actually a place in the heart.
Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre
The Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre (GHDT) is a professional contemporary dance company dedicated to exploring relevant social, cultural, historical, and spiritual themes. The dance company reaches out to a broad-based and diverse audience. The GHDT website is at https://www.gregoryhancockdancetheatre.org/performances/our-current-season/,
The contemporary ballet starts with a Kansas boy whipped and lashed by the trials and tribulations of life. The first scene is a foreboding tempest. The boy travels to India, where he encounters Hindu deities. The boy struggles with a dark aboding figure during the performance, appearing to be a shadow of himself. The opposing forces of the two dancers are a thought-provoking and emotional skirmish. This struggle reflects the internal and external forces pulling and tugging on the boy from Kansas. There is only a hair’s breadth between anguish and ecstasy. The Kansas boy also has exhilarating and inspirational encounters with the Hindu deities who impart wisdom, compassion, and courage. The complexity of human desire ends with the realization that there’s no place like home, which is within the heart.
The choreography of There’s No Place Like Home is a fluid, energetic mix of ballet, Indian, and modern dance. Each piece is superbly performed with kinetic energy and grace.
The Kansas boy is dressed in a simple white kurta, a loose, collarless shirt worn in many regions of South Asia. In contrast, the Hindu deities have elaborate and colorful dresses adorned with lavish jewelry. The silken lines and elegance set the deities apart from the Kansas boy and his dark nemesis. The stage becomes a splash of color as the deities’ small arabesques turn into incredible leaps and jumps! The long full skirts that reach the ankles swirled with the dancers’ vibrant and dramatic moments. The costumes played a huge role in the look of the dance. The use of bright colors, golden border, intricate embellishments, and beautiful drapes added to the performance.
The ballet’s music combines the sounds of America and India using American pop, folk, and gospel music along with classical, devotional, and film genres of India. The ballet’s music has a fast tempo.
Indiana resident Madhuchhanda Mandal created the backdrop for the stage. Mandal, who grew up in Kolkata, India, is a Ph.D. neuroscientist and an artist. The backdrop, which anchors the ballet, is a stunning collage with Indian theme art.
There’s No Place Like Home is transcends traditional boundaries and unites cultures, methods, and styles from around the world. It is an enchanting blend of traditional and ethnic music, dance, and themes. It is a thoroughly enjoyable performance that is rich in emotion and thoughtful reflection.