Inside the Pillow Lab: Mythili Prakash


Inside the Pillow Lab is an intimate new film series that captures works in process and behind-the-scenes moments of what it’s like for artists to live, work, and rehearse together again in COVID-compliant residencies on the Pillow’s retreat-like campus. "She’s Auspicious" examines notions of femininity and purity through the paradox of the Hindu Goddess Devi, who is worshiped as powerful and auspicious, in contrast to the woman who is objectified and marginalized in society. This Bharatanatyam work blurs the lines between Woman and Goddess, re-imagining popular mythical [Aryan] narratives. The iconic temple deity/ demon-slayer Goddess is imagined in a domestic setting balancing familial duty with the pressures of fame and public prominence. Utopian images of motherhood are re-illustrated with daily realities of parenting. Images of worship and glorification of the Goddess are contrasted with images of widow burning and sexual assault. For Prakash, the starting point of this piece has been the process of re-examination of her femininity and the way she performs it in her various identities as a woman, a mother, and a classical Indian dancer. Creating this piece has compelled her to confront her caste privilege and how it has allowed her to compartmentalize and disassociate from the complex histories of erasure and appropriation of her countries and the dance form she practices. The piece probes at the performative constructs of the form, particularly the expectations of the female body, which center on a particular aesthetic of beauty and refinement. “In this work, I seek to test my own boundaries by working into the choreographic structure of the piece—ways to push myself to an emotional edge, into a space that is more experiential than depictive. By inhabiting the character of the Goddess, who is created by male Gods, generated with their energy and weapons, and programmed to kill an army of demons, I seek to linger in psychological states that challenge the ideals of restraint that characterize femininity in both classical dance and in society. In doing this, I connect to my own lived and observed experiences as a woman that have driven the impulse to create this piece.” – Mythili Prakash Having previewed this piece at the Reflektor Festival in Hamburg, Germany in November 2021, the all-female cast of performers rejoins to further develop the piece at Pillow Lab. "She’s Auspicious" is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. INSIDE THE PILLOW LAB Mythili Prakash RESIDENCY DATES: November 14-20, 2022 APPEARING IN FILM: Concept/Choreography/Performance Mythili Prakash Music Composition/Production & Sound Design Aditya Prakash Vocal & Veena Ananya Ashok Vocal Visalini Sundaram Precussion Shubha Chandramouli Sound Engineer Julian Le Recording Credits Vocal on Recording/Sound Design: Sushma Soma Vocal on Recording/Sound Design: Aditya Prakash Mridangam on Recording: Aditya Prakash, Sumesh Narayanan Additional Residency Acknowledgement Assistant Sound Engineer: Neil Belen Rehearsal Director: Sam Asa Pratt NEL SHELBY PRODUCTIONS Nel Shelby, Producer Ashli Bickford, Videographer & Editor Benjamin Richards, Graphic Animation Sonia Bartolomeo, Project Manager The 2022-2023 PILLOW LAB RECEIVES LEADERSHIP SUPPORT FROM: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation © 2022 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Inc.

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