Originating in the eastern coastal state of India, Odisha; the classical dance form of Odissi is typically danced by women. Odissi is known for expressing religious stories and ideas and can be traced back as far as 500BCE-200BCE, where it has been mentioned in the highly revered Sanskrit text, The Nātya Sāstra, a 36 chapter book solely on the performing arts.

Courtesy of the Southbank Centre.

Courtesy of the Southbank Centre.

The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble showcase the classical dance form at this year’s Alchemy Festival and join forces with Chitrasena Dance Company, a company specialising in Kandyan originating in Sri Lanka. This fusion makes for a beautiful yet defiant evening as both ensembles collaborate to showcase the intricacies of both genres.

A defiant solo opens the concluding half of the evening. Warrior-esque in stance, a member of the cast fiercely dominates the space as she utilises beautiful hand gestures and celebrates her grounded-ness and freedom within the generous space. This sequence is mesmerising, presenting a force not to be reckoned with and celebrating strong female goddesses and characters. There’s a nuance in expression that makes the solo gripping, a story of battle told that keeps the audience engaged.

The finale is a celebration of both ensembles joining forces. Earthy footwork, intertwined with an effortless grace continue to highlight the nuance of both Odissi and Kandyan. Solos, trios and group work make for a dynamic sequence. The evening’s musician’s are also the stars of the production. The compositions integral to the dancer’s movements. Percussion plays a significant part of the evening, each note of the tabla transporting the audience to the heart of India. The vocals further heightening the drama and spirituality of the evening, each note and word sung contributing further to the theatricality.

An energetic evening showcasing the strength, traditions and creativity of both the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble and Chitrasena Dance Company. A must watch.

Review written by Lucy Basaba and based solely on the 2nd half of the evening.

Samhära: Nrityagram Dance Ensemble with Chitrasena Dance Company was shown at the Southbank Centre as part of Alchemy Festival 2017 on Friday 26th May.

For more information on  Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, visit here…

For more information on Chitrasena Dance Company, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop