A Dancer’s Journey Of Faith Draws Inspiration From A Book On Sacred Food

Bay Area dancer Nirupama Vaidhyanathan found inspiration in Food and Faith by Shoba Narayan for her latest dance production

A woman in a sari sits at the base of a tree
Nirupama Vaidyanathan, creator of Journeys of Faith (image credit: Divya Ramachandran)

Journeys of Faith – a dance theater production by Sankalpa Dance Foundation Artistic Director Nirupama Vaidhyanathan and her senior students is set to premiere on Feb 24th, 2024 at the Shiva Vishnu temple at Livermore.

“This is a unique production where I found inspiration from the book, Food and Faith written by Shoba Narayan,” says Nirupama Vaidhyanathan.  In holy spaces across India, sacred foods are offered to the deities during daily temple rituals before being distributed amongst devotees. Author Shoba Narayan recorded these culinary practices and the legends associated with cooking these foods in the form of a travelog as she traversed the length and breadth of India. The book is full of rich details drawn from conversations with priests, scholars, and those who work in the temple kitchens.

“As I read the book, visual ideas leaped from the pages. For instance, as I read the chapter on the holy city of Kashi, I realized that the duality of Shiva and Shakthi have complementary roles with annam (food) in this ancient city. Shakthi as Annapurna holds a bowl of sweet rice while Shiva holds a begging bowl in the form of Bhikshatana and this afforded the dancer in me an entry point to discover the city through music and dance,”

The program brings together culinary, music, and dance traditions from across various sacred spaces in India.

“I am excited to be there at the premiere of this dance theater production,” says Shoba Narayan.  “I am coming from Bangalore, India to see how Nirupama has adapted my book into a performance.  It is a first for me so I cannot wait to see it and meet the audience.”

In the last 2 years, Nirupama Vaidhyanathan has choreographed two dance theater productions – Whispers Along the Kaveri about the growth of art and artists along the river, and Tamizhin Kathai, a biography on the language Tamizh using narrative storytelling, music, and dance. With this project, she has challenged herself to do an adaptation based on a book.

Program Details:

Saturday, February 24, 2024, 4 pm
Shiva Vishnu temple,1232 Arrowhead Avenue, Livermore.
Scan the QR code on the flyer below to get tickets.
Email confirmation will admit two audience members

Subscribe to my newsletter