Form Dance and Parramatta Riverside’s ‘Dance Bites’ season brought an exciting, colourful and exotic mixed bill of dance styles.
Part of Form Dance and Parramatta Riverside’s ‘Dance Bites’ season this is the most exciting, colourful and rather exotic mixed bill that brings together traditional Indian dance and contemporary dance styles. It is a collaboration between Shruti Ghosh and Aruna Gandhimathinathan using the Indian classical dance forms of Kathak and Bharatanatyam.
Abstract patterns and the compelling rhythms of the dance are used in a very exciting, mesmerizing display. Both Ghosh and Gandhimathinathan are magnificent performers and we see how the movement of even just a finger is important (the ‘mudras’ or hand positions). Mehndi (the hand decorations) is prominent in the featured solos.
The first half, under the umbrella title ‘Nritya Roopa’ opens with a short invocation piece to the gods. The dancers are in traditional classical Indian red and gold costumes with the formal makeup etc and form a striking sculptural tableau.
In Shruti’s ‘Kathak Nritta’ solo there was dramatic use of her shadow behind her. What I noticed was the particular ‘epaulement’ for this style of dance, with a regal, rigid back but snaky, fluid expressive arms, delicate yet fiery and a use of their diagonal lines in various poses. There was an almost Flamenco-like rhythm of the feet and lots of turns showing off the glittering, swirling costume.
In Aruna’s ‘Jatiswaram In Bharatanatyam’ sinuous solo there is a use of the deep Graham plie and spiky fingers. There is extremely expressive, tightly choreographed use of the neck and eyes and while the choreography possibly seems ‘softer’ than the Kathak style it also perhaps seemed more vertical and ‘boxed in’. There is a duet to take us to the interval (‘Yahi Madhava’), opening with Aruna mermaid-like. Shruti then appears in a blue and gold sari, hair down. Here again there is very expressive mime and dazzling footwork to difficult intricate rhythms contrasted with sculptural poses .It is supposed to be a conversation between Radha and Krishna and combines both styles wonderfully.
After interval there was a great shift to a meld of strong ‘contemporary’ yet indigenous (Bangarra -like) work with ‘Dark Dream’, an eerie, dramatic duet for two men – Thomas E S Kelly and Carl Tolentino. Were they dreaming? Was any of it real? You could also see hints of the classical Indian style. It was performed with a soft, fluid angularity which was simultaneously definitely masculine.
One of the strangest ‘contemporary’ solos I have seen for a while was ‘A Dip for Narcissus’ that followed, choreographed and performed by Tammi Gissell. There was wonderful use of soft grainy photos and poetry text in the dreamlike, floating film projected on the back screen. Gissell’s body and costume had dye smeared on it .Confronting, a bit confusing and challenging, Gissell wore huge reflective goggles at one point and did a headstand in one of the three plastic buckets that were part of the set.
The finale of the programme was a wonderful dialogue between Aruna and Shruti’s two similar but different dance styles. Fresh and vibrant it was enchanting. Special mention must be made of the percussive music for this played by Prabhu Osoniqs on Hang that combined elements of the tabla, harmonium, sarangi, miridangam, violin flute and vocals.
It’s a fascinating mixed programme showcasing some tremendous performances.
Rating: 4 stars
Dates: 23-25 May 2013
Running Time: 90 mins (approx) including one interval
Form Dance Projects and Riverside present
Walking the path of Lineage
Shruti Ghosh and Aruna Gandhimathinathan
Music – Prabhu Osoniqs
Thomas S E Kelly and Carl Tolentino
Music – Venetian Snares, Bloc Party
A Dip For Narcissus
Choreographed and Performed by Tammi Gissell
Music – Meredith Monk, Edgard Varese, Goldmund
Sound design Tammi Gissell and Thomas E .S Kelly
Poetry and projection Tammi Gissell
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What the stars mean?
- Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
- Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
- Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
- Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
- Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
- Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
- Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
- One star: Awful, to be avoided
- Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level