Adelaide Fringe Festival's Dances of India sees the VasantaMala Indian Dance Troupe take centre stage. The troupe was founded by VasantaMala who was the first Japanese woman to bring Indian Dance into Japan.

After a lengthy audio introduction and measured swell of light, we were introduced to some graceful performers draped in Indian costume. Shakti and the VasantaMala Indian Dance Troupe from Japan began their show.

The VasantaMala Indian Dance Institute was founded by VasantaMala, Shakti’s mother, who was the first Japanese woman to bring Indian Dance into Japan. VasantaMala built the institute in Kyoto in 1968. Shakti has been dancing with her mother since the age of three and, once the institute was established, she continued her training there and has now built a branch in Tokyo. Classical Indian and folk dances are still taught there today.

Now, I know what you may be wondering – why are there no Indians performing this Indian dance show? This is a fair question and as I write it is an ongoing one of my daughter who accompanied me tonight.

However, I soon forgot my puzzlement as the dancers were quite convincing. Beginning with a traditional feel, the program jumped to and from this to a more contemporary approach with the occasional ‘soft-rock’ moment. This I must admit to have cringed at as I thought the classic dancing routines clashed with this particular soundtrack.

But… ‘Each to their own’, and with plenty of foot stomping, swirling and wobbling heads I was entertained and found my own heel joining in towards the end.

There seemed to be a narrative running throughout the show, perhaps stories of courtship, wind, water and earth. As there was no information available to allude to this I simply made it up myself, though one could be quite content just watching the rhythmic dancing.

The energy produced from a couple of the pieces was very uplifting and it seemed rather dull for us all to have to sit still ourselves. The lead dancer was very emotional and engaged well, along with having enough vigour for all.

Held in the North Adelaide Community Centre and staged in front of only a large cream backdrop, the dancers certainly needed to perform to hold the audience. With multiple costume changes (some even on stage!) and colour-coded soundtracks, this presentation is enjoyable and interesting.

The only disappointing thing was the lack of live music as this would have surely complimented and highlighted the talent and enthusiasm of the dancers.

ADELAIDE FRINGE FESTIVAL: Dances of India. Running until the 15th of March with tickets from $12 to $18 till Sunday 15th March, this 45 minute show is suitable for all ages.

For tickets and further information please click here.

Eleanor Zecchin
About the Author
Eleanor Zecchin is an artist and visual art lecturer at Adelaide College for the Arts.