Gannon University Hosts Indian Dance Recital and Lecture by Austrian Diplomat
Posted: September 14, 2015
In South Asia, the relationship between student and teacher is
one of extraordinary respect and reverence. "Guru," a word that has
been debased somewhat in casual English usage, is a title that
carries great weight.
On Tuesday, September 15, Anjali Sahay, Ph.D., an associate
professor of political science at Gannon University who was a
longtime student of a highly refined Indian classical dance form
will present her guru, Padmashri Shovana Narayan, in a dance
recital and lecture at the University's Yehl Room at 6:15 p.m. The
Yehl Room is located in the Waldron Student Center, 214 W. Seventh
St. Padmashri is the fourth-highest civilian award for culture and
arts presented by the president of India.
Narayan is an acclaimed exponent of the ancient North Indian
classical dance for known as kathak. Usually accompanied by
Hindustani classical music, kathak is a unique blend of the ancient
with the modern, and offers an unlimited scope for creativity. The
name is derived from the Sanskrit words katha, which means story
and kathakaar, which means storyteller. With origins in the 4th
century BCE, kathak experienced a metamorphosis in the courts of
the Mughal kings, incorporating a Persian influence that added
intricate footwork, spectacular spins and exquisite
On Tuesday, Narayan, accompanied by two musicians, will present
examples of kathak and will deliver a short talk about the
development and meaning of the form.
Sahay's connection with her guru began when she was six years
old. "She lived in our neighborhood in Delhi," Sahay said. "My
older sister and I learned from her for over 13 years. She was such
a strong personality that every time I had a question, I had to ask
my sister to ask her."
Sahay's sister has a school of Kathak dance, InSyncKathak, in
Fremont, California and has arranged Narayan's tour of the U.S.
including Berkeley and Yale universities, in addition to Gannon.
Other performances are in Houston; Dallas; Wilkes- Barre,
Pennsylvania; Philadelphia and Fremont.
Narayan is accompanied by her husband, Herbert Traxl, a former
Austrian diplomat who will present a lecture on his experiences in
postings in Africa, India and Iran.
The lecture, called "Reflections On a Diplomatic Career Between
Europe and Asia," will be presented at 11 a.m. in Room 104 of the
Zurn Science Center, 135 W. Seventh St.
Traxl was the Austrian ambassador to Iran from 1988 to 1990. He
held the same position in New Delhi from 1998 to 2002 during his
term in India he met Narayan.
"He is in a unique position to comment on the cultures of Iran
and India in addition to his expertise in European politics and
culture, and I also expect him to say a lot about the importance of
studying languages and the importance of foreign relations," Sahay
Both events are free and open to the public.