Celebrating its 12th year, Darbar Festival marks two firsts, number one, taking residence at Sadler’s Wells and number two, its inclusion of dance. Renowned for championing India’s incredibly rich classical music culture, the festival offers a programme of India’s finest musicians and dancers.

Courtesy of Sadler's Wells.

Courtesy of Sadler’s Wells.

Ragas, Sarod and Fiery Dance consists of a triptych of shows, the first, ‘Fiery Dance’ a set of dance sequences performed by celebrated dancer Mythili Prakash. Showcasing the myriad of skills needed to bring the dance form of Bharatanatyam to life, Prakash displays an effortless versatility, transforming from mercurial fire to a considerate mother through out the piece. Characterisation is key, from the quality of movement delivered, to the positioning of the arms, to the intensity portrayed through eye contact to the frequency in footwork, Prakash is chameleonic, subtly taking on qualities that change the feel of the evening. Accompanied by a team of vocalists and musicians, true partnership is visible here. Musical notes sung by the vocalists and the sequences danced by Prakash synergise, complimenting one another in the process. What’s magical about this partnership is the feeling that the audience are watching a one of a kind show. If Mythili were to dance this again, it would differ every time.

Forming the next part of the triple bill, ‘Sarod’ is Debasmita Bhattacharya playing the Sarod and  Guardian Rayatt playing the tabla. Eighty minutes of tranquil, meditative and beautiful rhythms entrance the audience. From Prakash’s fiery turn in section one, ‘Sarod’ mellows the mood and truly allows for the audience to appreciate the complex rhythms India are renowned for. ‘Sarod’ is a masterclass in musicianship, an absolute treat to the ears. Battacharya is the section’s foundation, she sets the tempo and tone. An initially tranquil evening shifts into a heart thumping dialogue between Battacharya and Rabat’s impressive and seemingly effortless technique.

The evening concludes with Dheerenda Tiwari‘s expertise within the genre of Kathak. Joined by a team of vocalist and musicians, Tiwari demonstrates the poise, strength and stamina needed to endure the duration of a kathak performance. Traditionally, this is a temple dance that would be performed for many hours, however this short section captures the essence of Tiwari’s devotion towards the form. The evening provides a gateway to the elaborate tones and notes of Indian classical music and the country’s richness is temple dance. The inclusion of dance within this festival is a natural progression and  4/5

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Ragas, Sarod and Fiery Dance was shown on Friday 10th November 2017 at Sadler’s Wells as part of this year’s Darbar Festival. The Durbar Festival took place from Thursday 9th until Sunday 12th November 2017. To find out more about the festival, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop