The story of Arachne - A mixed-media presentation

Anjali

and her company

music by George Sapounidis

About Andree Pouliot . . About George Sapounidis . . The company

A mixed-media work, Athena-Brahmini, is the telling of a Greek myth using South Asian dance techniques, masks and projected backdrops. In this creation, Anjali continues her personal artistic search: one that has many influences and continues to be nourished by many cultures. The title for this new work, Athena-Brahmini, has resonances in both Hindu and Greek mythology. Brahmini, in the Hindu pantheon, is the feminine aspect of creation, a role she shares with her Greek counterpart, Athena. This mixed-media dance theatre production explores gratitude and the importance of remembering past gifts and honouring the knowledge that teachers bestow. This is one expression of dharma (duty), which must be maintained for there to be balance and harmony in the universe.

Performed in Ottawa, 24, 25 April 2003

The People

Choreography, concept: Anjali.

Performers: Anjali, Ali Pubaly, Mandy McCarthy, Melanie Williams, Tony Gaston.

Music: traditional; bouzouki and guitar, George Sapounidis.

Masks:Andrée Pouliot.

Choreography Coach: Patricia Beatty.

Costumes: Andrée Pouliot, Anjali, Pat Nuell.

The Story

Athena Brahmini was inspired by the Greek myth of the rivalry between the mortal, Arachne and the Goddess Athena, the inventor of weaving. Arachne surpassed her teacher Athena in a weaving contest. Enraged, Athena tears up Arachne's work. The young woman attempts to hang herself in shame but Athena changes her into a spider so that she may continue to weave. Too late, Arachne realizes that she has transgressed the natural order by challenging the Goddess . However, she experiences an epiphany which allows her to accept her transformation with grace. Seeing her arms dissolve into the limbs of a spider, scurrying here and there, she discovers a beautiful web, exquisitely woven. Fascinated, she gently touches it with her new limbs. Finally, she submerges herself within the web, symbolizing acceptance of her fate. Now all of nature will enjoy her art of weaving.

The title, Athena-Brahmini, derives from the scientific name of the Spotted Owlet of India. The owl is the emblem of Athena, a wise bird, open and receptive, ever alert and watchful of events. Brahmini is the female consort of Brahma the creator in the Hindu pantheon and as such is the feminine aspect of creation. Athena, embodies the same potential, creating for the world many things: the art of weaving, the plough, the chariot, the bridle, navigation, numbers and many household arts.

Athena's task is to nourish the creative powers in nature and help humanity maintain empathy with it. Her role is to encourage the use of talents in a positive manner, to help to keep the forces of life in balance. The name, Athena Brahmini, encapsulates my reading of the myth as a cross-cultural sharing.