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I expected excellence from the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, but was not prepared for the level of excellence we'd see Friday night at the Lucas.

Though it boasts its own incredibly ancient pedigree, the classical Indian dance style on display seemed to encapsulate a perfect blend of African dance, Western ballet and Hawaiian hula.

The dancers displayed the low center of gravity focus of African dance, the fine-tuned athleticism and port de bras of Western ballet, and the storytelling aspects of hula.

The attention to detail, particularly with fingers and hands, was amazing. Every curve of the arm, every pattern of the fingers (down to the pinky), was pristine and absolutely systematic from dancer to dancer.

While the dancing was rigidly choregraphed, with virtually no room for improvisation of any kind, Nrityagram still gave the impression that the dancers were in complete freedom within the form.

The musical ensemble sat to the side, stage right, the violin and Indian flute carrying most of the accompaniment. A vocalist and percussionist rounded out the musicians.