The world premiere of the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater’s production of “The Jungle Book” will feature an exotic musical backdrop of a classical string quartet and Indian folk and classical music compositions, along with the mixture of Indian and American classical and folk dance.
“‘The Jungle Book’ is not your run-of-the-mill ballet! It’s an original ‘dance-musical’ that’s an exotic fusion of east and west in terms of music, culture and dance,” Gabriel Chajnik, the Artistic Director and Choreographer of Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater, is quoted saying in a press release.
Sitar player Neel Murgai and tabla percussionist Shivalik Ghoshal, who are both members of Brooklyn Raga Massive, will be performing live on stage.
Murgai has been playing sitar for 25 years and has studied under Krishna Batt in India and has been holding weekly concerts through Brooklyn Raga Massive for the past seven years.
His compositions for “The Jungle Book” include his original works as well as classical and Indian folk pieces, according to a press release.
“Gabriel [Chajnik] has created a very ambitious production that brings this classic Indian tale to life. It’s a moving story, and I find this work is more representative of Kipling’s book,” Murgai is quoted saying in a press release.
The production will also feature a Bharatanatyam dance choreographed by Sudha Shekhar Devulapalli, the founder of the Kalanjali School of Dance in Kendal Park, New Jersey.
“This is the first time an American ballet company has produced an Indian-based story and featured traditional choreography. Meshing south Indian classical and folk-dance elements with contemporary ballet is an exciting development in the world of dance and encourages greater cultural diversity. It’s also an amazing opportunity for my students,” Devulapalli is quoted saying in a press release.
“Gabriel’s vision is very grand and very exciting, and I’m learning so much about what goes into a professional American dance production as we collaborate together. He’s an extremely versatile choreographer and he knows exactly what he wants,” she added.
Devulapalli was trained and has received diplomas in both Kathak and Bharatanatyam from Prayag University in Allahbad, and has performed in India and elsewhere before starting her school in the U.S.
In addition, the Kalanjali School of Dance has received numerous awards in dance competitions within the Indian American community.
A family favorite, “The Jungle Book” is a timeless literary masterpiece that’s been published 500 times in over three dozen languages and also became an animated Disney classic.
“The Jungle Book” runs on February 2 and 9 at 8 p.m., on February 3 at 3 p.m. and on February 10 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater in Deal Park, New Jersey.
For tickets, visit www.axelrodartscenter.com or call the box office at (732) 531-9106 ext. 14.