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Roxanne Kamayani Gupta, assistant professor of religious studies at Albright College, will present an original performance piece, “Adi Shakti: Dawn of the First Goddess,” 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts.

Free and open to the public, the event is sponsored by Association for Lafayette Women and the religion department.

The performance features dramatic monologue and verse, storytelling, yoga, dance, and visual imagery. The dance depicts a dialogue between the Goddess and her analyst, which reveals an archetypal and ageless struggle, as well as the evolution of Shakti, the Primordial Feminine Energy. Through the use of dramatic monologue and verse, storytelling, yoga, dance, and visual imagery, Shakti first emerges from the earliest poetic images of feminine nature divinity found in the Vedas, the earliest Indian religious texts, and culminates in Durga, the all-powerful Goddess of the battleground as described in the Devi Mahatmya, India’s most popular Goddess epic.

“Evolving through the five elements and the seven chakras of the psychic body, the Goddess’ myths and rites mirror the evolution of human consciousness itself,” according to event organizers. “In the program, they are retold and enacted to capture the essence of a feminine creative power that evolved over thousands of years in India, one of the earth’s oldest, wisest, and richest cultures.”

Gupta is a scholar of Indian culture and comparative religion, a teacher of hatha and kriya yoga, and an initiate of the Sri Vidya tantric tradition of goddess worship. She earned a Ph.D. and M.Phil. in anthropology of religion, a master’s degree in religious studies, and a bachelor’s degree in South Asia and comparative religion from Syracuse University. Gupta is the author of A Yoga of Indian Classical Dance (Traditions International, 2000). She is the former program director of the New York State Independent College Consortium For Study in India, based at Hobart and William Smith College, Geneva, N.Y.

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