Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company - Uncharted Seas/Timeless
Kathak dance travels from tradition to timelessness
This article is from 2012.
A journey through time and space, Aditi Mangaldas' double-bill travels through the traditions of Kathak north Indian dance -- with its origins in storytelling -- to emerge spinning into the 21st century, in two pieces that connect the early temple beginnings of the dance to a distinctly modern spirituality, one that hints at the glorious unending patterns found in maths or physics.
Uncharted Seas, the first piece, is performed in traditional style; still, slow-burning candles held on a dark stage give way to full-skirted spins full of rigid poise, and the quick crisp flicks of the wrist that also inflect flamenco - a dance that travelled west with the Romani people from India while Kathak was absorbing its own east-travelling Persian influences. There's none of flamenco's ballsy attitude here however, supplanted instead by an airy grace, a clean intensity to the spins, and the open palms of the dancers which turn either up to heaven or down to earth. Layers of bells bound to each dancer's foot mean the stage is never silent, even when the sound fades to a rustle as quiet as running water.
This sets the context beautifully for Timeless, Mangaldas's contemporary re-imagining of the dance. Milk-silver lit and clothed in grey, her cast orbit and spin, making asymmetrical sequences that mirror the infinite rhythms of the drum beats and the slap of their feet - a sound like a handclap. She keeps the same structure of short episodes – tukras, toras and paranas – but the difference you notice most about this piece is the silence of their bodies without the bells, drawing attention to the lightness and detail of the dance. In one of her magnificent solos, Mangaldas' hands, pressed together at the wrists, twirl around her like atoms whizzing through space. When the ensemble move together, they have the same beauty and sense of infinity as Islamic geometric patterns, almost perfect, always human.
Royal Lyceum Theatre, 473 2089, until 19 Aug, 7.30pm, £10–£30.