Dancing In The Dark

A daring double-bill of performance brought Alchemy to a creative close

Posted: 03.06.16

The art of dance is integral to South Asian culture and the final day at Alchemy 2016 was an opportunity to enjoy the vibrancy of some of the classic styles that make Indian dance so universal. During the day young dancers showed off their skills while at night two performances by two renowned female dancers brought this year’s festival to a creative close.

Kin, presented by Icecraft Dance Company

Taking the audience on a journey beyond everyday emotions, this three-act performance delved into the realms of the darker side of the human imagination. At times disturbing, hypnotic and unexpected, Kin, performed by solo dancer Sanjukta Sinha took the discipline of classical Kathak and blended it with other-worldly influences to create a piece that captivated and inspired.

Act one entitled Illumine (choreographer Miriam Peretz) explored the notion of white light representing the very beginnings of life; a blank canvas from which we are born. As a stream of white lighting glowed on stage the dance began. Central to the curious character’s performance was her white dress which lifted in rhythm with her vigorous moves. Twirling using the meditative techniques of Sufi dancers alongside hypnotic movements, it was an effortlessly beautiful performance.

The atmosphere morphed into a land of hellish nightmares for Act two (Id, choreographer Aakash Odedera), where our character was plunged into darkness, into the world of the sub-conscious where instinct is the only thing that guided her. Here it is wasn’t the costume that mattered, but the hair which shrouded Sanjukta for the duration. Like a tortured soul her character fell and crept around the stage with short, sharp movements, while her hands mimicked the motions of a Venus flytrap, ready to attack. A frightening watch, it was a refreshing and original piece of choreography that tested the audience to question their image of what they perceive Indian dance to be.

The final act (Incede, choreographed by Smt Kumudini Lakhia), was a return to a more familiar form of the discipline with elements fused with the poise and passion of Flamenco dance. Sanjukta, dressed in a bold red frock, elegantly clapped her hands, stamped her feet and invited us in to watch her personal interpretation of love. Majestic, flamboyant and rich in expression it concluded the trilogy perfectly.

Rage and Beyond: Irawati’s Gandhari by Beej Production

A familiar tale with a new angle, Rage and Beyond was a re-telling of the epic Indian poem The Mahabharata, told this time through the view of Gandhari, a princess who wears a blindfold, after discovering her husband is blind. Courageous and loyal she is a strong-willed and devout woman whose strength is tested after she gives birth to a stone. Part dance, part voice, part song, with accompaniment by a live acoustic guitarist it was an emotional tale delivered with dignity. Performed and choreographed by Sanjukta Wagh, a master in Kathak, it was an exceptional piece of storytelling that demonstrated the many facets of the arts in Indian culture. Skillfully performed with an atmosphere that gripped the audience, it was an example of how modern theatre that has the ability to celebrate classical tales by updating them for new audiences.

Kin and Rage and Beyond were shown as part of Alchemy 2016 at the Southbank Centre in London

Momtaz Begum-Hossain

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