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Pulse south asian music and dance

AUTUMN 2016 - #134

£8 | $12 | €9

INSIDE Previews Apsaras ArtsAñjasa Aditi Mangaldas Dance CompanyInter_rupted Reviews Kadam-My Soul is Alight • ATMA Dance-The Magic Fish • Natalia Hildner, Hauz Khas and Arunima Kumar-Rouh, Spoken Word and Ghazal • AkademiStaycation/Vacation Payal RamchandaniARDRA • Rani Khanam and Abhinav Mishra Dance IhayamiSilent Space Alba FlamencaIndia Flamenco

Young Voices Making Music and Dance Careers

Ananya Chatterjea Urban classical The Rose and the InBulbul the Frame


sound in print


connecting asian dance and music communities

‘Five dancers emerged or were sucked again into this mass or black hole to a throbbing, powerful score…I [felt] what the dancers were going through...’ – Malcolm Keen, Pulse magazine Pagrav Dance Company & Urja Desai Thakore present their new contemporary dance piece


28 September / 7.30pm Stantonbury Theatre, Milton Keynes

1 October / 7.30pm Rich Mix, London

“When I let go of myself, I become what I might be” - Lao Tzo

Inspired by this quote, Artistic Director of Pagrav and Detox choreographer, Urja Desai Thakore has looked into physical, mental and spiritual cleansing, and asks, “Can we ever truly be detoxified?” However, what has transpired goes deeper and beyond the more typical challenges and cycles of addiction and purification. Choroegrapher: Urja Desai Thakore Music composer: Jatanil Banerjee Lighting designer: Chloe Kenward Photo: Simon Richardson

Pagrav would be truly grateful for your support through both attendance and through their kickstarter campaign —

the zerOclassikal project

THE BRIDGE sitar concerto / JASDEEP SINGH DEGUN a new commissioned work in association with SAA-UK premiere: Dec 7th 2016 / 1pm / Leeds College of Music


our monthly basement sessions: Karamel / Chocolate Factory 2 / London N22 6UJ zerOclassikal/Facebook/ Twitter/Instragam

a zeroculture initiative with Collage Arts with funding from ACE dedicated to support next gen British south Asian classical musicianship

image:Ayesha Begum

Pulse Autumn 2016 — Issue 134 ISSN 1476-6019 Published by Kadam Asian Dance and Music c/o The Carnival Centre 3 St Mary’s Road, Luton LU1 3JA +44 7905 268887 Editorial Team Commissioning Editor Sanjeevini Dutta


134 /Contents 12

2 Editorial/News 4 Listings 6

Young Voices Now that South Asian classical music and dance have become established and visible in the UK, how are young musicians and dancers trained and based in the UK building their careers? Sanjeevini Dutta and Gopa Roy talked to some young artists.


In The Frame – The Rose and the Bulbul A summer promenade performance captured by Simon Richardson.


Choreographing Resistance, Resisting Definitions – Ananya’s Contemporary Odissi and her Pledge to Social Change Odissi dancer Elena Catalano reflects on how Ananya Chatterjea’s thought and choreographic work unsettles and provokes new understandings.

Assistant Editor Gopa Roy Editorial and Marketing Assistant Parbati Jill Chaudhury Design Art Director Pritpal Ajimal Photography Director Simon Richardson Subscriptions, Advertising & Info

Contacts Disclaimer Pulse is published by Kadam Asian Dance and Music. Kadam are a part of SADA (South Asian Dance Alliance). No part of the magazine may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. Copyright of the text is shared with its authors. Copyright of the photographs/images reside with contributing photographers/ artists. All other rights reserved. The views/opinions expressed in Pulse are the authors’ and not necessarily those of the editor or publisher. While reasonable effort has been made to avoid errors, no liability will be accepted for any that may have inadvertently occurred.

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Published by

Previews Autumn 2016 – Añjasa – Apsaras Arts (from Singapore) Inter_rupted – Drishtikon (from New Delhi)


Reviews – Dance Performance My Soul is Alight – Kadam The Magic Fish – ATMA Dance A double bill: Rouh, Spoken Word and Ghazal – Natalia Hildner & Hauz Khas Connection with Arunima Kumar Staycation/Vacation – Akademi ARDRA – Impassioned Moods – Payal Ramchandani Kathak Performance – Rani Khanam and Abhinav Mishra Edinburgh Fringe Festival Silent Space – Dance Ihayami India Flamenco – Alba Flamenca

Annual subscription £32 with free delivery Cheques payable to Kadam, c/o The Carnival Centre 3 St Mary’s Road, Luton LU1 3JA. For online subscriptions and payments please visit


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connecting asian dance and music communities

Pulse serves the arts sector by recording, critiquing, profiling and archiving South Asian dance and music in the UK through Pulse magazine and the website: The magazine relies solely on income from subscriptions, advertising and donations. All donations welcome through our website Kadam forms part of the SADA Alliance

24 Contents Page Photo Credits FC 2 6 9 12 14 20 24

Mithila Sarma | Photo: Simon Richardson If I Could Reach Home | Photo: Simon Richardson Jasdeep Singh Degun | Photo: Ayesha Begum Jaina Modasia | Photo: Vipul Sangoi The Rose & the Bulbul | Photo: Simon Richardson Ananya Chatterjea | Photo: Simon Richardson Añjasa | Photo: Courtesy Apsaras Arts India Flamenco | Photo: Jane Hobson



Letter from the Editor Dear Reader

temple to the city centre. Enjoy the crowded performance season and we still have some tickets for the Dance Club outing to Inter_rupted on Thursday, 20 October. Drop us a line if you would like to come along.

Sometimes the true value of a thing emerges only after living Sanjeevini Dutta with it – so too with Pulse. The need that has emerged most strongly is for the magazine to reflect the aspirations of the Dance Umbrella 2016 new generation. Firstly, to raise awareness and spread the word of forthcoming events; and post- Dance Umbrella is London’s international dance festival, performance to offer honest and celebrating twenty-first-century constructive critique. Where the choreography. Founded in 1978, mainstream press will not enter is the ground that Pulse must fill. this internationally-recognised festival continues to show energy We spoke to a number of and freshness in 2016. The festival musicians and dancers under 30 runs from 7 to 22 October across about how they came to choose sixteen London venues. Emma a career in the arts. We did not have any agenda or preconceived Gladstone, the Artistic Director and CEO since 2014, brings ideas. Halfway through, we six international companies, realised that the work of South including three that have received Asian organisations two decades joint commissions, one of on is clearly visible, so we which is Aditi Mangaldas Dance talked to them. The majority of Company’s London première of the musicians mentioned their Inter_rupted (see p.19). formative years spent with The opening programme, Samyo (South Asian Music Youth Unknown Pleasure, has a unique Orchestra, started in 2000 and concept of five new pieces in managed by Milapfest), and which the choreographers subsequent experience with the remain anonymous (revealed music group Tarang. only at the performance, one In both music and dance the assumes), presented at Sadler’s bursaries enabling students to travel to India were also mentioned as being pivotal. At the next stage, the transition from student to professional is smoothed over through various schemes put in place by organisations like Akademi and Sampad. Ultimately what makes a great artist like Akram Khan is stand-out technique and artistry; intelligence and articulacy; the partnership with a great producer like Farooq Chaudhury; Inter_rupted | Photo: NCPA and luck. However, the journey started with a rigorous training Wells on 7 and 8 October by under Guru Pratap Pawar and CCN–Ballet de Lorraine. Other early opportunities such as performances that have caught Sampad’s Choreolab which our attention are Use My Body produced a duet with Mavin While It’s Still Young for four Khoo – No Male Egos. Sixteen performers aged 65 to 79, and years on, their friendship continues and occasionally Khoo Gala, a city-specific commission from Parisian Jérôme Bel and doubles up as Rehearsal Director for Akram Khan Dance Company. featuring twenty Londoners from all walks of life. Before signing off, I must mention how awed I am by Ananya Chatterjea’s photos Korzo India Dance taken in the middle of a shopping centre in Surbiton. Festival These images rock – the dancer Indian classical and contemporary owns the urban/sub-urban dance and music are strongly space. South Asian dance has represented in an annual twotaken a short cut from the

Looking Ahead


week festival produced by Korzo, in The Hague. Korzo is a production house that has been supporting the growth and development of South Asian arts to reflect the population of Asian heritage peoples from the former Dutch colony of Surinam. Over the last six years, Korzo has appointed Associate Artists like bharatanatyam dancer Kalpana Raghuraman (Netherlands) and Revanata Sarabhai (India). It has commissioned and toured their work and helped them develop their artistic practice. The 2016 highlights include Satyagraha, an opera by Philip Glass on Gandhi’s struggles in South Africa. Sung by a unique Hindustani-Dutch collaboration of Zangam and Dario Fo choirs, this work opens the festival on Friday, 14 October. Dance and movement choreographed by the well-known Kalpana Raghuraman enhance the opera. Eagerly anticipated is a new contemporary creation by Chennai-based bharatanatyam duo Renjith and Vijna, who will be mentored by the Kiliyan Foundation. Notable from the UK is Amina Khayyam’s presentation of the adaptation of Lorca’s Yerma. 14‒29 October 2016

The dancers of English National Ballet described the process of working with Khan as hugely inspirational: he not only kept pace physically, moving with the dancers, but also mentally engaged them with background information of the narrative and his views: “You know where his thoughts are.” Khan teams up with some of his long-term creative collaborators: Tim Yip for design (Desh, Until the Lions); composer and musician Vincenzo Lamagna (Until the Lions); and Ruth Little (dramaturgy). Giselle will première at the Manchester International Festival on 27 September 2016. The November dates at Sadler’s Wells are all sold out, so those London audiences who have not already purchased tickets will have to wait for the next run of Giselle.

If I Could Reach Home... In this new piece dancer and choreographer Magdalen Gorringe uses bharatanatyam and kathak to interpret poems specially written and recorded by a group of Birmingham-based women asylum-seekers. She will be joined by bharatanatyam

Akram Khan’s Giselle It is interesting that an Indian classical dancer/choreographer has been asked by the director of English National Ballet, Tamara Rojo, to update the classic ballet first performed in 1841. The

Lakshmi Srinivasan, Vidya Patel, Magdalen Gorringe | Photo: Simon Richardson

Tamara Rojo and Akram Khan | Photo: Laurent Liotardo

confidence placed by Rojo in Khan follows the hugely successful commission by ENB of the piece Dust, which was one of three dances in the programme Lest We Forget, which commemorated the centenary of the First World War. She says: “When I decided that I wanted to bring Giselle...into the twenty-first century, there was only one choreographer, I believed, who had the necessary knowledge of tradition and creativity necessary for this task.”

dancer Lakshmi Srinivasan and kathak dancer Vidya Patel. The programme will be supported by two works Magdalen has been developing with local youth and drama groups. Première Sunday 20 November 4pm Hexagon Theatre mac, Birmingham £7.50 (£5 Concessions) 0121 4463232 Friday 2 December 8pm Rowheath Pavilion, Bournville £6 (£4 Concessions) 0121 4581711


Darbar Festival 2016 This year’s Darbar Festival, in its eleventh year, is bringing wellestablished household names in classical music to the Royal Festival Hall – not, this time, to the smaller Southbank Centre venues of the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, which are being refurbished. With artists such Amjad Ali Khan, Shubha Mudgal, Aruna Sairam, Rajan and Sajan Mishra, as well as Roopa Panesar and Vishal Jain in morning concerts, it is exciting to see the depth and breadth of appreciation of classical music among British audiences now. We can also look forward to a dance element, with the Odissi Ensemble’s Gods and Mortals accompanied by live music in the Clore Ballroom on 18 September (free). 16‒18 September Royal Festival Hall, London

Glancing Back Madhavi Mudgal delights audiences Madhavi Mudgal is one of the shining lights of the odissi dance firmament. She made a brief stopover in the UK as part of her European tour, sponsored by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations. Returning after more than a decade to Bedford where she first started teaching odissi

Madhavi Mudgal (right) and her ensemble Photo: Simon Richardson

at the Kadam summer camps, she was rapturously received by audiences at The Place, Bedford, on 7 June 2016. A thriving odissi class taught by teacher Parvati Rajamani (trained under Madhavi Mudgal) has won many followers for this dance style. In London, in the same week, Sama Arts Network presented Madhavi Mudgal with her ensemble of dancers and musicians at the Bhavan. The ensemble work, which was seen for the first time in the UK, appeared to be a new departure for the artist. We have mostly seen Madhaviji perform

of Madhavi Mudgal, led the odissi workshops and was an inspiration to all. She held a warm and holistic approach to our dance, grounded by immaculate technique and teaching methods. Exuding a passion and unbridled energy, she gave us endless motivation to perform to our highest and give every drop we could muster. And of course I must mention the laughter that held us in such good spirits throughout the experience. Arriving as a completely new personality to us, she quickly transformed into teacher, supporter and friend, finding her way into our hearts with each joke and witticism. Alongside Monica Singh, we were extremely lucky to also have Ananya Chatterjee (USA/India), director of Ananya Dance Theatre, leading master-class workshops and giving a fantastic lecture on her dance journey. Renowned for her pioneering work incorporating social justice and activism into dance, it was a unique opportunity to gain an insight into the bold directions possible when moving from a traditional base. It was a really special and unique week. A huge thank-you and commendation must be given to Elena Catalano, who held the Fire and vigour – Odissi vision for the week with such clarity and brought it to life the Summer School only way she knows how – with Promising a week of intense perfection, integrity and passion. odissi exploration over a London We all readily await the next summer, the Odissi Summer School instalment, and till then we will lived up to its name. The days were take nourishment from the fruits heated by sun, sweat and mental we have harvested from these stimulation, as all involved lived beautiful and dreamy (and quite a vision for dance, passionately sweaty) days. brought to life. The opening performance Maryam Shakiba evening at the Nehru Centre was a brilliant start, with beautiful The Rose and the performances from outstanding UK performers Katie Ryan, Ranjana Bulbul Ghatak and Kali Chandrasegaram. In a promenade performance on a Last but not least, Monica Singh July day this summer, storytellers (India/Australia) performed, imploring us to give classical dance (Kamal Kaan and Sita Thomas), dancers (Kali Chandrasegaram the patience it so rightly deserves. and Parbati Chaudhury, joined by From there we moved down Nashira Santanalia, Ish Khan and to Kingston, where we danced for young students from Nritham hours each day: a memory and stamina challenge from the thirty- Dance Academy) and musicians (Ranjana Ghatak, May Robertson, minute Sthiti piece, incorporating Nick Cattermole and Arieb odissi, yoga and chhau; a Azhar) guided audiences through nourishing abhinaya, embodying Radha in her luscious glory longing the beautiful historic gardens of Stockwood Park in Luton as they for Krishna; and powerful warmconjured up a Mughal emperor’s ups and choreographic sequences garden, journeyed through the in master-class workshops that Elizabethan knot garden and broke down components of odissi and yoga, rebuilding them with fire out into a forest glade with their story of disruption, love and and vigour. acceptance. Monica Singh, senior disciple as a solo artist. However, in a conversation with Pulse, Madhaviji stated that her work was the result of an evolution rather than a break with her past. “Artistic growth is a long drawn- out process.” She said that she saw the possibilities of multiple bodies, doing not just the same movement, and instead of creating a ‘tableau’, which is kind of static, keeping formations and movements varied and dynamic. This characteristic, combined with her play with tala and laya, made for complex and satisfying choreography, admirably executed by four young dancers. She said: “Tala interests me. I had the idea of starting off at different points in the tala.” Speaking of the standout piece of the evening, TalaVaidhya, Madhaviji explained that she wanted to delve more deeply into body positions or karanas and explore different ways of moving from one to another and also at different points of the tala. The UK audiences appreciated that they had experienced a rare treat: the output of an artist at the top of her game.

Here the baroque violinist gives her view: Musicians from different traditions created two characteratmospheres for The Rose and the Bulbul, at first sharply defined, then blended. My own training in the historically-inspired performance of Western classical music helped me to find ways of describing Rose’s identity as she gradually discovered it. The best tool seemed something that for many has been lost as performance of Western music has been crystallised and fixed in notation through the centuries: its own tradition of improvisation. For instance, the formal walled garden, representing part of Rose’s heritage, asked for evocative early music: dances from John Playford’s seventeenth-century English Dancing Master with added embellishments, and a free improvisation on John Dowland’s Flow My Tears. And Rose’s initial sad theme was improvised over a repeating ground bass pattern of four descending notes, often used for baroque laments. Dialogue was already present, though; Bulbul’s entry, sung by Ranjana Ghatak, had unlocked Rose’s voice, and all of this was over a tanpura drone. There were other moments, though, when the story needed me to abandon my familiar. Flourishes based on one note, reminiscent of monophonic Indian styles, merged with Ranjana’s singing; and to accompany Arieb Azhar’s moving songs, happening at important ‘coming-together’ points in the narrative at which everybody’s strengths were combined, I was challenged simply to improvise freely in the mode ‘bouncing off’ the voice, helping to carry the songs’ message. (This was all on gut strings and a light seventeenth-century-style bow, which worked beautifully.) The play depicts friendship allowing us gently to change and grow, and it did this for me as part of my personal journey: letting me bring in Western music’s neglected improvisation techniques, giving me a starting way into other forms through wonderful colleagues (meeting ‘in the middle’ with those taught in an equally rigorous Indian classical tradition), but most importantly, requiring us all freely to make music. May Robertson



Maay Boli(Mother Tongue) at Nehru Centre, 30 August 2016 Swati Raut presented through dance and commentary the outcome of her research into the Marathi language compositions for bharatanatyam made in the late-seventeenth to early-nineteenth centuries in Thanjavur. She consulted documents in the Saraswathi Mahal Library of the Brihedeshwar Temple complex and selected extracts of lyrics. The Marathi dance repertoire, consisting of an invocatory sharanu, varnam and an abhinaya piece, was explored

Nahid Siddiqui comes to Listings the Bhavan Nahid Siddiqui, the universallylauded kathak performer and choreographer, has accepted the post of kathak teacher at the Bhavan Centre, London following the departure of Abhay Shankar Mishra after more than a decade. This vacancy attracted a number of applicants and the appointment went to Nahid Siddiqui, who commands a huge reputation as a performer of great refinement and aesthetic sensitivity. This unexpected move for the Birmingham-based artist suggests a new phase in her life. Pulse wishes Nahidji a fulfilling and creative next chapter.

SEPTEMBER to Exhibition 18 Sept The Space Between: Rana Begum Parasol, London to Exhibition 30 Sept Strangers in the Land– Impressions of India David Wilson Library, University of Leicester, Leicester to 22 Oct

Swati Raut | Photo: Simon Richardson

under the guidance of Professor Hari Krishnan, Associate Professor of Dance at Wesleyan University. The pieces were informed and inspired by the courtesan dance but did not attempt to replicate it. The artist tried to get a feel for the very organic abhinaya and nritta of the courtesan, inspired by human experience. The dancer performed the solos with great sincerity and a heartfelt connection to her material. The presentation, with a full orchestra including Pushkala Gopal (nattuvangam and vocals), Manorama Prasad (vocals), Prathap R N (mridangam) and Vijay Venkat (flute), was a rare treat for the Nehru Centre audiences.

Corrections to Issue 133 Page 5: The YUVA youth dance competition was organised by Akademi and the Southbank Centre, not by SADAA as reported. The showcase that followed the competition was organised by SADAA where artists from the member organisations performed. Pages 17 & 19: The black and white photos of Nina Rajarani are by Ray Clark and not Simon Richardson as stated. 4 PULSE AUTUMN 2016

Exhibition Breathing Calligraphy: Razwan Ul-Haq Kala Sangam, Bradford

to Exhibition 30 Oct Imran Qureshi: Garden Within a Garden (Bradford Artists’ Responses & 2 Exhibitions): Imran Qureshi Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford to 6 Nov

Rang Manch Pravesh On Saturday 3 September there was not an empty seat at the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham for witnesses to the two-hourlong debut solo performance by kathak dancer Vidya Patel. Tutored by kathak Guru Sujata Banerjee, and accompanied by a full orchestra, Vidya gave a fluid and confident performance. An alumna of the Centre for

to 11 Dec

16 31 Oct

Exhibition You Can’t Please All: Bhupen Khakar Tate Modern, London

Exhibition Musical Wonders of India Room 41, Victoria & Albert Museum, London


Music Darbar Festival Southbank Centre, London


Music Hridoyer Gaan: SSSPA, Iffat Ara Khan Rich Mix, London


Vidya Patel | Photo: Simon Richardson



Music A.R. Rahman Tour London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester


Festival Lok Virsa: Beyond Borders: Sonia Sabri Company Rich Mix, London


Music Voices – Bharatanatyam Solo Recital: Srinidhi Raghavan Bhavan Centre, London Music Sounds of Sitar: Mehboob Nadeem and Manjit Singh Rasia Kala Sangam, Bradford

24Music 20 Nov Bangla Music Festival: Saudha Various Venues, London 25

Exhibition Black Chronicles Photographic Portraits 1862-1948 / Pandit Ram Gopal National Portrait Gallery, London

Music So I Keep Coming Back to You: Moushumi Bhowmik, Oliver Weeks, Khiyo Rich Mix, London

Advanced Dance Training, Vidya has been propelled into the dance world following her success as category finalist of BBC Young Dancer 2015. The Rang Manch Pravesh was an occasion to demonstrate the technical skills and repertoire acquired by the dancer under the guidance of her Guru, the totality of what makes a kathak performer – and Vidya Patel accomplished that goal with an effortless grace and ease.

Symposium Symposium On Tagore: Partha Mitter, Imre Bangha, Tanika Gupta, Sheela Flather Nehru Centre, London

Dance/Music Mahalaya: A Celebration Of Bengali Music & Dance Bhavan Centre, London 26-30

Lectures Dreaming With Vishnu – Studies in Comparative Mythology: Dr Vidya Kamat Bhavan Centre, London


Workshops Autumn Odissi Workshop: Learn Moksha: Sushmita Pati Bhavan Centre, London

27-30 then touring till 19 Nov

Dance Akram Khan’s Giselle: Akram Khan/ENB The Palace Theatre, Manchester


Music zerOclassikal Basement Sessions Double Bill: Veena & Sitar: Pavithra Logitharajah and Mayooran Kandhasam, Raaheel Husain Karamel Club, Wood Green, London

Dance Gods & Mortals: Odissi Ensemble Southbank Centre, London Music Riverside Ragas: Rakesh Chaurasia Sage, Gateshead

Theatre The Elfic Circle Project: Andrea Seki, Fabrice De Graef, Catherine Dreau, Christian Noçon, Sachin Khetani Nehru Centre, London

Dance/Music Nrityakala 30 Years: Boat Party in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital: Nrityakala Dance Heritage River Thames, London 19



Dance Kathakanjali: Keka Sinha Nehru Centre, London

Dance Detox: Pagrav Dance Company Stantonbury Theatre, Milton Keynes 29

Dance/Music Kathaa Kutcheri In commemoration of India’s Nightingale: Carnatica Brothers, Divya Kasturi, Avanthi Meduri Nehru Centre, London Dance Kadamb: Kumudini Lakhia Dance Company Bhavan Centre, London

Dance/Music In Spotlight: Raam Jeganathan, Trina Roy Cockpit Theatre, London

Music Trance-IT: Rafiki Jazz Arts@Trinity, Leeds Music The Maharaja And The Kohinoor: Hardial Rai/zeroPlus Theatre Nehru Centre, London


Music Naseebo Lal Colston Hall, Bristol

LISTINGS — UPFRONT Music Saptak Fusion Band Ghazal & Sufi: Dilraj Singh Nehru Centre, London


Dance Detox: Pagrav Dance Company Rich Mix, London Dance/Music/Spoken Word Navratri Durga: Chhandam & Jadavpur University Alumni UK Rudolf Steiner Theatre, London 07786 36648

Exhibition Sandouq: Ekta Kaul, Vallari Harshwal, Mukta Dabral Bhavan Centre, London 15

Music Mohan Vina Concert: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool 2


Music Autumn Festival – Samaroh Launch Nehru Centre, London 5-16


75 Nov






Music Serenade With The Sarangi: Surjit Singh, Jasdeep Singh, Surdarshan Singh Chana St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York

Music Mohan Vina Concert: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt Bhavan Centre, London Music Flux mac, Birmingham

Music BFI London Film Festival Various Venues, London Dance/Music/Spoken Word Legacies And Legends: Shwapnil Shojib, Nirjher Chowdhury, Samiul Islam Poluck, Aviroop Sharma Nehru Centre, London Music Melody Of Love And Shadows: Saudha Nehru Centre / City University, London



Dance/Music Indian Classical Vocal & Dance: Prabir Banerjee, Anjana Banerjee Thakurata Nehru Centre, London Dance Bharatanatyam Workshops & Performance: Sita Nandakumar Bhavan Centre, London


Dance Dance Umbrella Inter_rupted: Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company Barbican Centre, London


Dance/Music Radical Ideas: Subduction Zone: Mithila Sarma Rich Mix, London 21-22


Dance Folk dance traditions of Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh J&K Festival: Natrang Nehru Centre, London


Dance Yatra–Manipuri Dance: Debanjali Biswas, Krishnakali Dasgupta and Debanjana Roy Nehru Centre, London





Music/Workshop Sur Sangam: Chitravina Ravikaran, Chatanyan Kumar, RN Prakash, RN Pratap Kala Sangam Arts Centre, Bradford

Music Land of Gold: Anoushka Shankar Southbank Centre, London

Music Riverside Ragas Sangam: Pandit Bharat Bhushan Goswami, Ustad Dharambir Singh MBE and Pandit Ramdas Palsule Sage, Gateshead

Panel Discussion Of Everything And Nothing: Raghu Rai & Revati Sharma Singh Nehru Centre, London

Dance Lecture Demonstration In Kathak Abhinaya: Keka Sinha Bhavan Centre, London

Dance Aunusthan: Urja Desai Thakore & Pagrav Youth Dance Millar Arts Centre, Banbury


Music Music for the Mind and Soul: Jonathan Mayer & Kousic Sen The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester


Dance Murmur & Inked: Aakash Odedra Company Swansea International Festival then touring; Wales, Kent



Music Sangam: Dharambir Singh, Bharat Bhushan Goswami, Ramdas Palsule Seven Arts, Leeds

Music/Spoken Word/Workshops Trimfest 2016: Mini Mela, The Baghdaddies, Tongue Tied and Twisted, Hannabiell & Midnight Blue Various venues, Trimdon Village

Music Sitar & Tabla: Jonathan Mayer and Udit Pankhania Nehru Centre, London Music Stringfest – Sitar & Tabla: Partha Bose & Indrani Mallick Nehru Centre, London Music Music for the Mind and Soul: Jonathan Mayer & Kousic Sen The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool


Music Jan Garbarek Group: Jan Garbarek with Trilok Gurtu Royal Festival Hall, London


Dance Akram Khan’s Giselle: English National Ballet Sadler’s Wells, London


Theatre The Invention Of Shoes: Bishwo Shahitto Kendro Rich Mix, London


Dance Giselle: Akram Khan Company Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol


Music Music for the Mind and Soul: Tarang The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool


Music Music for the Mind and Soul: Tarang The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Music Carnatic Connections: Jyotsna Srikanth & Bollywood Brass Band St George’s, Bristol

Dance If I Could Reach Home: Magdalen Gorringe, Lakshmi Srinivasan, Vidya Patel mac, Birmingham 0121 4581711

Music Binonder Kiccha: The Story Of A Gallinule Hunter: T M Ahmed Kaysher / Radharaman Society Rich Mix, London

Dance Anu-Bhaava: Payal Ramchandani Caedmon Hall, Gateshead


Dance Salaam: Sonia Sabri Company Nehru Centre, London Festival Jammu & Kashmir Festival Bhavan Centre, London

Theatre Anita and Me: By Meera Syal, adapted by Tanika Gupta Repertory Theatre, Birmingham

Music Shyam-e-Sitar: Lovely Sharma Nehru Centre, London

Dance/Music Sitar & Kathak Performance: Saberi Misra, Shakir Khan, Rajkumar Misra Bhavan Centre, London

17-20 & 23

Music GUYO Workshop: Grand Union Youth Orchestra Rich Mix, London

Music Haniwa: Flowers by Girish Karnad: Asil Rais, Rosslyn Hyams, Gilles Portes Nehru Centre, London

Music RAAGA-BHAVA-TARANGA: Gopalkrishna Hegde & Troupe Bhavan Centre, London




Music London International Arts Festival: John Sterckx, Rekesh Chauhan, Project 23, Black Top, Niladri Kumar, Jyotsna Srikanth Various venues, London


Dance Until the Lions: Akram Khan Company The Curve, Leicester

Dance/Music/Spoken Word An Evening of Lucknowi Traditions: Swapan Chaudhuri, Surjeet Singh, Rekesh Chauhan, Deepak Maharaj, Pranshu Chatur Lal, Ghulam Waris Cadogan Hall, London


Theatre Season Of Bangla: Drama Rich Mix, London

Dance/Comedy American Man: Hetain Patel Lilian Baylis Studio, London



Music Shadowlines Launch: Flux King’s Place , London


Music/Exhibition/Seminar Khyal Music and Imagination Exhibition and Events: Durham University & GemArts Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne



Theatre Bashikaran – Spellbound Rich Mix, London Dance Añjasa: Apsaras Arts Bhavan Centre, London Music Outside Inside: Josh Feinberg, Shabaz Hussain Seven Arts, Leeds



Music Jai Ho Ho Ho: Amar Chotai Central Library, Gateshead

31 Jan 2017

Exhibition Journey To Justice Rich Mix, London


Music The Bridge: Jasdeep Singh Degun Leeds College Of Music, Leeds


Dance/Music Tagore’s Travelling Trunk: Souvid Datta, Soumik Datta and others Cadogan Hall, London Music Journey To Justice Winter Concert: Grand Union Orchestra Rich Mix, London

Dance Añjasa: Apsaras Arts The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool Music Diwali Celebrations: GVEMSG and GemArts Civic Centre , Gateshead




No less than the Olympic athletes we might have been marvelling at in Rio last month, musicians and dancers who seek to pursue their chosen art form need support, guidance and opportunity to help nurture their gifts and further their efforts. Their gurus, we know, are most important in forming their artistic foundations. Most of the artists we talked to also spoke of their parents’ support and encouragement – and possibly pushing, at the start. Beyond these, what or who has made the most significant contribution and what is needed now to secure and build on these foundations, as UK artists are becoming more visible in the arts world?

Youn Vo By SANJEEVINI dutta AND GOPA roy

The Musicians A number of arts organisations have been vital to the development of some of the young musicians to whom we spoke. The initiatives of Milapfest (founded in Liverpool in 1985, with its first youth orchestra created in 2000) and SAA-uk (established in Leeds in 1997) are now bearing fruit, so that a career in classical music is now becoming a serious possibility for British-born artists. GemArts (Newcastle) and sampad (Birmingham) have also been key in providing support.

“…a career in classical music is now becoming a serious possibility…” For Jasdeep Singh Degun, sitar player and vocalist, recipient of this year’s Yuva Sangeet Ratna award (Young Musician), the greatest influence and role model has been Dharambir Singh, but Jasdeep’s ten years with


aravindhan baheerathan | PHOTO: courtesy the artist


ng oices Milapfest’s youth orchestra and ensemble, Samyo and Tarang, have also been pivotal in the development of skills he is now using as a professional musician. The opportunity to collaborate with other national youth orchestras, with musicians from a range of different styles and backgrounds, including Western classical, jazz and brass band, has given him the ability to flourish now in the context of music in the UK.

“…Samyo and Tarang, have also been pivotal…” Khayal singer Prabhat Rao (one of the two runners-up in the Yuva Sangeet Ratna competition) organises ‘In Spotlight’, which is aimed at providing performance opportunities for young musicians and dancers. Prabhat told us that as well as the Bhavan (London), where he studied and which played a major role in his growth, Milapfest “has given me the space and opportunity to learn and grow in music.” Mithila Sarma, artistic director of zerOclassikal, says: “Having

been in the Samyo and Tarang for twelve years I have gained so much knowledge and experience for which I am very grateful.” These orchestras have also been a formative influence on some of zerOclassikal’s ‘Basement Series’ musicians. Violinist Kitha Nadarajah (the other runner-up for the Yuva Sangeet Ratna award): “From living, eating, breathing and making music with other music students my age, learning from and interacting with great musicians to receiving performance opportunities in the greatest venues across the country”, being part of the youth orchestras has shaped who she is as a musician. Kaviraj Singh, vocalist and santoor and tabla player, highlighted the opportunities the orchestras provided for musicians from both Northern and Southern traditions to meet and share ideas.

“…living, eating, breathing and making music with other… students…”

SAA-uk’s regular classes and summer schools in Leeds contributed to many musicians’ careers and lives. Kaviraj attended regularly. Jasdeep said of the summer schools, led at that time by Dharambir Singh (whose name came up a number of times as a profoundly important influence): “International artists were brought over from India to teach us, [such as] Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty and Kaushiki Chakrabarty. Learning basic practice techniques under these artists at an early age really had a positive impact on my progression in classical music.” SAA-uk’s CEO Keranjeet Kaur Virdee “is always there to give advice including when we first started Project 12 (a fusion band)”, says Mithila Sarma. Funding Support The opportunity for UK-trained musicians to travel to India for further training can be invaluable. Flute player Aravindhan Baheerathan won the Asian Music Circuit Award at the Croydon Music Festival in 2007. The £1,500 provided enabled him to advance his



training in South Indian music and this “was a truly inspirational experience”.

“The opportunity…to travel to India…‘was a truly inspirational experience’.” A source of funding that is perhaps not sufficiently pursued can come from companies and businesses with a commitment to supporting the arts. The John Lewis Partnership, Prabhat Rao’s former employer, sponsored ‘In Spotlight’ and continues to do so. On a different scale, Jasdeep Singh Degun has been awarded the Sky Academy Arts Scholarship, worth £30,000, to work on a debut album of contemporary and classical music over the next year.


Prabhat Rao | PHOTO: Eddie Daley

Being A Musician – The Reality Musicians have to find a balance between art and earning a living. Some work in professions outside music, such as medicine (Aravindhan Baheerathan) or consulting (Kitha); some in related professions (Kaviraj Singh is a sound engineer); others have a mixed portfolio of teaching and administration as well as performance. Jasdeep is deeply appreciative of the insights he has gained from Dharambir Singh, not just into music but “how a musician can lead a portfolio career in teaching, performing, composing, etc. with each strand dominating at various points in a musician’s life.”

“…a musician can lead a portfolio career in teaching, performing, composing, etc.…” The Gaps There is clearly the talent, skill and potential for classical musicians in the UK to build viable careers, but it is still a struggle. There were a number of areas of need our musicians identified if musicians are to achieve sustainable and stable careers.

“…a number of areas of need…” First, there is a gap in funding and mentorship for professional artistic development at a national level. Musicians need opportunities for advanced training in their art form as well as guidance and advice on the business aspects of how to get a career started: administration, how to access the arts sector as a musician, how to engage with venues, how to seek out 8 PULSE AUTUMN 2016

new ventures and opportunities. Further, support and commitment from promoters is needed to guide artists and give them the opportunity to perform as soloists as well as accompanists. Performance and the space it provides to communicate with audiences is often what drives the art and impels the artist to take their art to a higher level. Finally, musicians would clearly value more opportunities for collaboration with other musicians.

Hardial Rai, producer of the zerOclassikal project, comments on his approach. When he was programming young South Asian artists in the 1990s, “what I said to artists was very simple – ‘I don’t care too much about your technique or your mastery of vocabulary but am interested in what you have to say.’ “I have been keen that the leadership and vision of next-gen British South Asian classical artists is led by themselves…the zerOclassikal project is being led by such a driver in Mithila Sarma. “The ‘Basement Series’ of the zerOclassikal project is a freefall experiment for new, emerging British-trained South Asian classical music talent, from where we ‘catch’ artists to progress to ‘work-inprogress’ commissions and from there to full commissions. Each stage is supported by an artist development programme, which is in the process of taking shape.” The venue for the ‘Basement Series’ is the Karamel Club in Wood Green: “We don’t really see Karamel as a ‘club’ but an informal gathering which is no different to a traditional ‘mehfil’ setting... The full commissions are programmed in full concert settings and will be toured to ten national classical music venues next year... However, saying that, we are not less reverential to a ‘club’ setting than a full music concert venue. The 90s saw an amazing brand of classical musicians at Anokha and SitarFunk nights. And that is the project’s brand – to break stereotypes and aspire to meet new audiences for the genre.”


The Dancers


ancers are perhaps even more reliant on the guidance of their teachers, particularly if they are outside areas with large South Asian populations. Vibha Selvaratnam of India Dance South West has trained in bharatanatyam in Cardiff with her mother and teacher, Kiran Ratna – herself a student of Chitralekha Bolar, who is based in the West Midlands. The names of other individuals apart from their own teachers have been mentioned as mentors by the young dancers we spoke to – Ruth Bates of People Dancing (the Foundation for Community Dance); scholar and kuchipudi dancer Avanthi Meduri; Kadam/ Pulse director and editor Sanjeevini Dutta; and Akademi director Mira Kaushik. There are, however, some organisations that support professional development for dancers and choreographers.

All South Asian dance organisations have schemes to guide young aspiring artists seeking to make their careers in dance. Akademi, the London-based and nationally-significant agency for South

vibha selvaratnam | PHOTO: Dr Selvaratnam

South Asian Arts Organisations

Jaina Modasia | PHOTO: Vipul Sangoi

“Dancers are…more reliant on the guidance of their teachers…”

Asian dance has been particularly active in this area. Through its annual artist development programmes, it provides opportunities for artists to improve their skillsets, with mentorship to help further artistic thinking. “We want to allow the artist to define their own artistic voice as a performer, choreographer, practitioner, etc.” (Nina Head, Artist Development & Production, Akademi). The artists in the first platform for emerging dancers, Navodit and Daredevas, are selected directly through auditions; Choreogata and Utkarsh are open application choreographic commissions. Limited resources mean that the cohorts are kept relatively small.

“We want to allow the artist to define their own artistic voice...” One of the dancers in the under-30s age group who has benefited from Akademi’s programme and its wider work is kathak dancer Parbati Chaudhury, who last AUTUMN 2016 PULSE 9


love dance.” Sampad’s unique Dance Intense (2005‒2008) exposed emerging professionals from the UK, USA, Canada, India and Singapore to internationallyrenowned choreographers. The programme facilitated cross-border collaborations for this generation of artists and took them to markets beyond their home countries.


“...Dance India… ‘helped me to realise how much I love dance.’”

year won both Akademi’s Kathak Solo Category of Yuva and Milapfest’s Yuva Nritya Ratna (Young Dancer) awards: “Akademi’s Navodit in 2014 gave me my first professional performance platform as a soloist, and their relationships with schools and centres around London have given me space to lead workshops and increase the awareness of South Asian dance.” Artist development has also been a priority for over twenty-five years for the Birmingham arts organisation Sampad. However, Urmala Jassal (Associate Director, Arts Programme) tells us that “with reduced funding we have been forced to reduce our investment considerably over the last five years.” Sampad’s Creative Launchpad scheme is designed to create a fund for investment by raising individual donations. Sampad does, however, have a number of current artist 10 PULSE AUTUMN 2016

development schemes that are cross art form, but also include the development of dance artists. One of these is Artists Link, which provides support with ‘on-thejob’ training for artists, attaching them to projects and work-shadowing lead artists. Among those who have been supported through this scheme are Aakash Odedra, Jyoti Parwana, Kat Bailey and Subhash Viman. Another is Creative Leap, where artists are supported through a talent development process leading to showcases and R&D funding applications. What contributions are made by other organisations? For eleven years Milapfest’s Dance India (previously the Kadam International Summer School) provided a week of intensive teaching with dancers from India as well as the UK. Seetal Gahir told us how her Dance India experience “helped me to realise how much I

Milapfest has currently paused the weeklong intensive and will instead be running a weekend of master-classes. Seetal also tells us that Nupur Arts and Centre for Indian Classical Dance in Leicester “have really helped me to…open up my potential as an arts manager, marketer and producer.” GemArts, based in Newcastle, has been making an impact in the region over a number of years. Kuchipudi dancer Payal Ramchandani, who has made the move to the UK from India, writes: “GemArts... [does] tremendous work in the northeast to promote Indian classical arts throughout the region with high-profile artists from the UK and outside the UK.” Payal has worked with GemArts on various projects to establish kuchipudi as a dance form in the region through workshops, performances and classes. She also works closely with Dance City in Newcastle to introduce kuchipudi to students intending to take up dance professionally.

“GemArts... [does] tremendous work in the north-east to promote Indian classical arts throughout the region…” In Birmingham, Jaina Modasia, a finalist in the South Asian category of BBC Young Dancer last year, told us that, alongside the training and mentoring provided by her teacher Sujata Banerjee, she has found the DanceXchange Centre for Advanced Dance Training for South Asian and Contemporary Dance (Yuva Gati) very helpful, as their programme is tailored to each individual and progress and fitness are monitored. Sampad is the producer of this programme, for the ‘gifted and talented’ scheme for dance students. Vidya Patel is also an alumna of this scheme. Learning Hands-On – Touring Young dancers find the learning experience offered by touring as part of a

company to be very valuable. Seetal Gahir: “Touring Yerma with Amina Khayyam Dance Company 2013‒2015 confirmed that I could perform dance and would keep doing it as well and as much as I can.” Parbati Chaudhury: “Over the past nine months, Kadam/Pulse has produced and toured My Soul is Alight, featuring solo and duet work from myself and odissi dancer Katie Ryan as we collaborated with musicians… The learning curve has been very high within this project.”

contribute.” Payal is currently teaching and performing, but would like to find ways of promoting and raising the visibility of the dance form. Funding Support

Payal Ramchandani | PHOTO: Avinash Pasricha

The profile and standing of South Asian dance in the UK has never been higher and much of the credit for this goes to Akademi and Sampad. Nina Head: “We are proud to have nurtured so many artists over the last four decades and Being A Dancer – The Reality seen careers blossom… and we want to ensure that a professional career in Young dancers find that they are working dance is a viable, sustainable option” by in a number of areas. Seetal pointed out embedding structured support platforms that there is a crossover in skills: “If in Akademi’s work and increasingly you are a performer, teaching is a way connecting with the wider dance and of imparting your skills and you need cultural infrastructure of the UK. Esmée to manage a schedule, finances and Fairbairn Foundation and Arts Council performance ideas too.” Parbati’s time is England have enabled Akademi’s current divided between performing, teaching and programme of artist development activity. administration projects, such as recently Artist development also remains a priority for the Navadisha 2016 conference, and for Sampad: “We are looking to raise funds the creation of educational resources for this priority area as well as creating for dance organisations. She says: “Any development opportunities within wider industry needs a wide range of individuals project plans.” (Urmala Jassal.) possessing an even wider set of skills in order to be sustainable and successful… The Gaps if someone is considering a career in dance, they should really think about The common theme between the the different ways in which they could musicians and the dancers is the lack

of support for continuing professional development (CPD). Financial support to cover travel, training and studio hire “would allow me to focus more on improving my ability rather than working to pay for it” (Seetal).

“Financial support… ‘would allow me to focus more on improving my ability rather than working to pay for it.’” There is also a great need for practical guidance: how to find funding for work; about programming processes for venues and festivals; and “how to get a theatre to take on one of your shows or how best to find an appropriate venue and explain to them what is needed” (Vibha). Career labs or surgeries – not necessarily exclusive to South Asian dance – have been suggested, with speakers, workshops and opportunities for one-toone advice. Dancers would also benefit from opportunities to collaborate, with choreographers and dancers brought together. Funders and programmers, whatever the regions in which they work, should also remember that in order for any art form to bloom and flourish, artists need opportunities to perform and audiences need to be exposed to a variety of styles.

Coming up In Spotlight Featuring improvised Indian classical dance and music with Trina Roy (kathak) and Raam Jeganathan (veena). Sunday 25 September | 7.30pm | £7 Cockpit Theatre London Subduction Zone A music and dance production by Mithila Sarma exploring the complexities of identity of a young British Sri Lankan woman growing up in the West, using a combination of Carnatic, with influences of contemporary Western and dub music with bharatanatyam and street dance to showcase the story. Friday 21 October | £10 | Rich Mix

The Bridge Concerto for sitar and Western string ensemble by Jasdeep Singh Degun, commissioned by zerOclassikal. Première at the Leeds International Concert Season on 7 December 2016. AUTUMN 2016 PULSE 11





n  24 July, visitors to the gardens of Stockwood Park, Luton, found themselves absorbed in a story of the plight of refugees seeking a safe home. Kamal Kaan’s sensitive script was developed in response to the formal and informal gardens. The performance seamlessly integrated spoken text with music and dance that moved across the cultures. Young and old, families and individuals, experienced the garden in new ways as they followed the scent of a rose through the spaces of the park. The Rose and the Bulbul was an R and D project, co-produced by Kadam/ Pulse and Luton Culture.



Choreographing Resisting defi

Ananya’s Contemporary Odissi and H


ng resistance finitions

Her Pledge to Social Change

Elena Catalano is an odissi practitioner and a social anthropologist who teaches dance at Kingston University. She has been searching for a theoretical framework in which to anchor her practice and came across a model she wanted to explore, proposed by Ananya Chatterjea.




It was in this attempt to know more about odissi and to confront my new-born passion with a dance style apparently so alien to my cultural background that I entered into a conversation, albeit for long more imaginary than real, with Ananya Chatterjea. I started to talk to her through her writings and discuss with her through the clips of her choreographic works. More recently, I introduced and discussed her work with my dance students at Kingston University. Ananya’s voice and bodiliness have long haunted my relationship with odissi in a consistent, although indirect and sometimes even troubled way.

“I started to talk to her through her writings...” Ananya, who is now Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota and Artistic Director of Ananya Dance Theatre, is not only one of the very few academics to have extensively trained in odissi; she is also an active practitioner and a rigorous intellectual who carefully appraises the pernicious effects of established narratives and everyday vocabulary. In her numerous writings, she confronts the patriarchal underpinnings of traditional aesthetics. In her choreographic practice, she endorses the voices and experiences of women of colour.

“...she confronts the patriarchal underpinnings of traditional aesthetics.”


met Ananya Chatterjea for the first time in 2009 while searching for bibliographic resources on Indian classical dance. She was there on the pages of her book speaking of choreographies of resistance, weaving a feminist reading of Chandralekha’s work. At that time my personal journey with odissi had just begun. I had learned a few basic moves, but I was unfamiliar with Indian classical dance at large, and even less with the politics that had created and sustained its aesthetics. Yet, the complexity of the style and the challenges it posed fascinated and motivated me to deepen my understanding of the form.

Ankh Company 16 PULSE AUTUMN 2016

Ananya contests several aspects of the traditional aesthetics, yet she is committed to developing a contemporary language that refuses the cultural imperialism of Western contemporary dance. Ananya is an activist and a feminist who uses her artistic practice as a tool for provoking social awareness and change. She has developed a very personal movement vocabulary, Yorchha, which, while rooted in the classical form of odissi, chhau and yoga, is compelling, fearless and unique in its results. Her choreographic work sits now at the margin of both the classical and the contemporary dance scenes, although quite resistant to fitting easily into any of these categories.

“...developing a...language that refuses the cultural imperialism of Western contemporary dance.”

When I met Ananya for the first time through the pages of her writings and the clips of her choreographies, I felt at the same time deeply fascinated and somehow unsettled by her bold and brave statements. As a Western woman, trained as an adult in India, I did not feel particularly inclined to political and even less to feminist arguments. However, Ananya’s articles were explicitly confronting me, posing difficult questions, provoking further uneasiness in my already uneasy embodiment of the form. Her voice was haunting the relationship with my guru, the embodiment of the vocabulary, the learning of the classical repertoire, my daily practice. Perhaps Ananya was questioning the innocence of my passion for odissi. She was forcing me to wonder about the dynamics of power I was involved in, and even generating, as a white Western woman training in India.

class, Ananya taught some of the basic principles of Yorchha, and a challenging excerpt from her own repertoire. It was with this dance material that we really had a first-hand understanding of the distinctive way she uses the body and energy in movement and her pedagogical approach to training. While physically and emotionally challenging, Ananya’s work provoked in all of us a new way of understanding our relationship with the dance form and with our own practice.

“...Ananya’s work provoked in all of us a new way of understanding...” Ananya’s contribution to the odissi world is greater than most are ready to understand and recognise. Her choreographic work should be showcased in the UK, and odissi dancers who are willing to explore the creative potential of this dance form should have the opportunity to work with Ananya. There is little doubt that her work will inspire many who want to fly outside the little cosy but somehow narrow cage the odissi community has created for itself.

“She was forcing me to wonder about the dynamics of power…” Then, this year I had the opportunity to organise an Odissi Summer School at Kingston University. The school included traditional repertoire workshops led by Monica Singh. However, I felt it was crucial that Ananya was somehow part of it. Despite being ground-breaking, Ananya’s choreographic work was surprisingly unknown to most odissi dance practitioners I had met. I wanted participants to be shaken and inspired by a woman who fearlessly pushed the boundaries of the dance form from within, through a physical and intellectual engagement with its aesthetics, holding a serious, sustained and politically-aware standpoint.

“...I felt it was crucial that Ananya was somehow part of [The Odissi Summer School].” Ananya was invited to give a lecture and a masterclass as part of the Odissi Summer School. She talked about her journey within the dance form, growing up in the busy streets of Kolkata, under the traditional guru-shishya system. She then explained how the contrast between the glossy aesthetics of the dance and the harsh reality of Indian urban life made her feel uneasy with the traditional form and training system. She talked about how she became sensitive to the experience of women in Indian patriarchal society, and how after moving to the USA, she began to research the dance form and develop her own technique and choreographic language, inspired by street theatres and other Indian bodily vocabularies. Then, in the master-





Autumn 2016

Title of Show and Company Añjasa ‒ Unravel the Wonders of Buddhist Monuments

Two shows that are touring the UK this autumn caught the eye of Pulse. With a large ensemble of dancers, live music and high production values, Añjasa from Apsaras Arts, Singapore and Inter_ rupted by Drishtikon of New Delhi share the scale in common. Yet their visions and the ‘look’ they project could not be more different. Pulse looks forward to the experience that the two productions will bring.


Apsaras Arts, Singapore, presented by Milapfest, UK Date and Venue 10 November 2016 - Bhavan, London 12 November 2016 - Capstone Theatre, Liverpool Company Artistic Statement Apsaras Arts provides a platform for Indian classical dancers (bharatanatyam and kathak) to pursue a full-time professional career. The company is known for its innovative ensemble productions based on South-East Asian themes. Name two highlights of Apsaras’ achievements Nirmanika – The Beauty of Architecture: This production was admired for its unique theme and innovative choreography in which dancers depicted the beauty of architecture integrated with intricate light design rather than the narratives from the Indian epics, and also for the fresh approach to music scores for bharatanatyam. Angkor – An Untold Story: This megaproduction included seventy dancers and twenty

supporting cast, performing together with a live music orchestra of thirty musicians. The production illustrated the tale behind the making of Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world to date. The choreography, music and costume design incorporated both Indian bharatanatyam and Cambodian classical dance. Angkor featured internationally-acclaimed dancers Priyadarsini Govind, Balagopal and Anjana Anand, performing together with the company dancers and the dancers from the Royal Cambodian Dance Company. Please describe what the audience will see and experience In Añjasa the audience will be taken on a journey through Asian Buddhist monuments. The dancers will illustrate the legends associated with these monuments and also depict their architectural wonders. The audience will learn about the iconic efforts of two Buddhist emperors, Asoka of India and Jayavarman VII of Cambodia, in the propagation of Buddhism across Asia. The music score of this production includes some South-East Asian musical instruments blending with a regular bharatanatyam orchestra and the choreography has been developed by creating a specific vocabulary for this ensemble work. The costumes have been designed specifically to suit the aesthetics of a Buddhist theme.

Title of Show and Company

Name two highlights of Drishtikon’s achievements


Drishtikon has been fortunate to present its classical and contemporary work in some major international dance festivals around the world. In India it is considered one of the premier kathak companies presenting solo and group, contemporary and classical work.

Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company – The Drishtikon Dance Foundation Date and Venue

Germany 12 October 2016 – Tollhaus, Karlsruhe, Germany

Please describe what the audience will see and experience in Inter_rupted

UK 20/21/22 October 2016 – Barbican Centre, London 25 October 2016 – The Lowry, Manchester 27 October 2016 – Curve Theatre, Leicester 30 October 2016 – Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry

Inter_rupted has been inspired by the philosophy of the sages who saw that impermanence is at the root of the human experience. The choreographer makes a bold move to create ‘in the moment, about the moments’ that make up our human existence. Mangaldas requests the viewer to come with an open mind: “This piece wasn’t easy to make, as I had to face the very ‘moment’ that the work talks about. All I have done is to have tried not to capture anything… just to face it, if possible.” She continues: “I urge you to view it as a moment or any moment in one’s life that we so strive to hold on to…but, of course, all is transient, all is flowing, all is inter_rupted.” Pulse adds: “Expect to see virtuosic dance, both in solo and group formats, delivered through highlytrained and experienced dancers; an eye for design, lighting and costume; crystal abhinaya and intriguing structure, which will keep audiences working instead of sitting back and being entertained.”

Company Artistic Statement Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company, the Drishtikon Dance Foundation has been established with a vision to look at tradition with a modern mind, to explore the past to create a new, imaginative future. The dance company aims to achieve excellence and virtuosity in the rich classical Indian dance form of kathak, as well as encourage the spirit of innovation. In so doing, we seek to challenge established norms and develop the courage to dance our own dance, while at the same time being informed about the heritage, cultures, influences and language of other dance styles and forms, viewpoints and ideas.




Dance Performance My Soul is Alight

3 July 2016 Kadam Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester Reviewed by Seetal Kaur


y Soul is Alight presented a beguiling glimpse into odissi and kathak through movements, themes, colours and emotions. During an evening carefully curated by Sanjeevini Dutta, two bright British dancers, Parbati Chaudhury and Katie Ryan, blossomed into partners on stage with imaginative and heartfelt interweaving of live music by vocalist Ranjana Ghatak and violinist May Robertson. The evening flowed through an experimental and exploratory first half into dazzling classical repertoire items in the second half, allowing the audience to acquire a feel for the forms before the more traditional roots were unearthed. Ranjana and Katie began

mirroring movements and motifs. It was certainly a challenge to bridge kathak and baroque violin, but the effort succeeded in merging the two forms in expressive synchronisation. Saheli was the highlight of the evening. Featuring original music by Jesse Bannister, the piece explored a friendship and interaction between two individual identities and their emotive dynamics. Charming rhythmic interplay and choreography characterised this piece with soft, tender moments and exuberant conversation showcasing both styles. Saheli was certainly packed with enough conceptual and musical material to develop into something much larger than an item in a mixed bill. Following the interval, Parbati presented an effervescent thumri sung in the vivid and affecting voice of Kaushiki Chakraborty. Dramatic phrases depicted the plight of a nayika lost without her lover as Parbati’s eyes glistened with longing. In Leela Nidhi, Katie’s coy and

items added a sense of satisfaction. As a sceptical optimist, I was pleasantly surprised by how the evening unfolded – sceptical because I wasn’t sure how successfully the interplay between the two styles of dance, live music and experimental themes would work. But the optimist in me realised that productions like this are a valuable opportunity, not only for artistic development but for audiences to experience the multiple aspects of these rich dance forms too. I wish more people had seen it in Leicester but across the UK, the several dates of the tour ensured that a production of this quality reached a wider audience. A dedicated production house for this kind of work would provide space to explore themes, lighting design and collaboration with live musicians, but one acknowledges that significant logistical and financial constraints exist. My Soul is Alight was successful in representing kathak and odissi with engaging themes. The relationships and interactions on stage created an intimate atmosphere with enough room for the unique skills and strengths of each artist to be realised clearly.

The Magic Fish

16 July 2016 ATMA Dance The Place, London Reviewed by Lise Smith

Photo: Simon Richardson

in a spatial relationship where neither really addressed the other. Katie played the distracted deer, searching for the musk that already lay within her – a charming metaphor for the human quest, expressed by Ranjana’s eloquent rendition of Tagore’s verses. The immersive lighting design transformed the stage into a starry galaxy. Katie and Ranjana acknowledged each other for the first time, realising the divine sparks surrounding them. Next Parbati swirled in, gracefully interpreting May Robertson’s sweeping violin in Bach’s Partita 2. Parbati’s choreographic skill came to the fore as she played with the musical themes through 20 PULSE AUTUMN 2016


ince launching her company ATMA Dance in 2010, contemporary bharatanatyam choreographer Mayuri Boonham

bashful Radha was gracefully detailed, elaborating on the lyrical softness of the odissi form. Parbati confidently and fluidly presented an uplifting classical ‘pure dance’ piece choreographed by her teacher, Urja Desai Thakore, featuring technical aspects of kathak’s nritta. Katie’s final piece revealed her strong grounding in the powerful intricacy of odissi’s rhythmic movement compositions, which flowed smoothly into a Devi Stuti sung by Ranjana, bringing the evening to a devotional close. The sequence of the mixed bill was skilfully calculated. Experimental pieces provided food for thought and classical

Photo: Chris Nash

has made a series of well-crafted, intellectually curious works that deal with subject matter as diverse as T.S. Eliot’s poetry and the universe before the Big Bang. The Magic Fish is Boonham’s first work for children, and the centrepiece of this year’s Something Happening For Kids children’s festival at The Place. Not to be confused with the European folk story of the same name, The Magic Fish uses dance, music and spoken word to tell the story of Vishnu in his incarnation as Matsya. The performance is billed as suitable for children aged 5 to 9, but many of the much younger children in the audience (including my own 9-monthold baby daughter) were quite enraptured by Boonham’s enchanting portrayal of Vishnu, whom we first encounter sleeping on the stage, bathed in aquatic green light with a hypnotic twinkling soundtrack lapping over us. The piece begins with Boonham introducing herself as the somnolent god, with a monologue delivered over the top of a fluid, gestural solo. Vishnu then calls to the stage regular ATMA collaborator Pauline Reibell as the titular fish; this use of two performers in essentially one role (Vishnu and Vishnu-as-Matsya) did confuse my non-dancefrequenting husband but didn’t appear to bother the younger viewers one jot. Reibell, in a nonspeaking role, is a wonderfully labile fish with her expressive spine and supple hands. The hypnotic, otherworldly mood changes into something more earthly with the arrival of King Manu (Pirashanna Thevarajah) making his way

in through the audience. Thevarajah, who has a ready rapport with the young audience members, brings a jocular, blokey appeal to his regal role and encourages plenty of interaction. He greets his loyal subjects in the auditorium with waves and high-fives; takes a refreshing mimed bath in the river with lots of characterful scrubbing and gargling; and (later in the show) holds the young viewers rapt with his rhythmic mridangam playing. Lovers of Indian myth will already know how the story continues: Manu finds a magical speaking fish in his bathing water one morning, and promises to save the fish from predators in the river by taking him home to his palace. Overnight, thanks to the magic of theatre and large swathes of fabric, the fish grows immense (accompanied, in this version, by high-pitched shouts of “fish behind you!”) and reveals itself to be Vishnu, transformed into fish form to fight the demon No-Knowledge. Manu, of course, has to build a ship to keep the subjects of his kingdom safe, and here the ship is interactively formed from young audience members invited to the stage to create the bow, stern and mast with their own bodies. The number of eager volunteers arriving on stage to help with this part of the story illustrates the engaging nature of the show and it was great to see that even the younger children in the audience were not too shy to participate. Fortunately, Manu’s plan works, the ship reaches the Himalayas, and everyone’s suggested treasures are distributed among the people to start a new society. Cue a feelgood ending and happy smiles all around. If there’s a small criticism to be made about The Magic Fish, it’s that the advertised running time of forty minutes feels far more suited to the target age range than the nearly hour-long performance that actually took place. If Boonham can find a way to move the show along at a more child-friendly lick without losing the playfulness and interactivity – and if someone in the crew can find a slightly nicer piece of set to represent the Kritamala river than the length of plastic sheeting that looked like it might have come in a hurry from Homebase – she’ll have a winner on her hands.

A double bill: Rouh, Spoken Word and Ghazal 3 July 2016 Natalia Hildner & Hauz Khas Connection with Arunima Kumar Cecil Sharp House, London Reviewed by Sushma Mehta


atalia Hildner ‒ a dancer with the nazāka (delicacy, elegance) and adā (grace) of the Lucknow gharana of kathak and yet with a very contemporary feel ‒ performed in a double bill presented by Sama Arts Network in a delightful and evocative

surprise when Arunima Kumar – a talented kuchipudi dancer – took us on a journey into the culture, social etiquette and aesthetics of life in Avadh during the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last nawab of Avadh. Expressing in dance through spoken word with ghazal and Sufi compositions sung beautifully by Suhail Yusuf Khan, the ambience of Shan-e-Avadh was effectively created. After a short interval Natalia began her performance. She started with a thumri, Mora Man Liye Jaye, blending nritta (abstract) and nritya (expressional) dance, using the

diverse languages through the universal language of dance and music. Much of the music was improvised and again Natalia’s expression through lyrics and exploration of rhythm was palpable, her body syncing with the music and responding to the musicality of the various instruments accompanying her. However, the piece felt very rushed and somehow unfinished. Natalia moved rather hurriedly from a ghazal in one language to the next, with the result that unfortunately the audience was not given a chance to get into the spirit of the piece as a whole. She needs to develop it further and elaborate each ghazal as a part of the aggregate so that in its entirety it does touch the rouh (soul). Then, as in the words of Parveen Shakir, we will reach our ultimate goal, rouh tak a gai tasir masihai ki – ‘My soul has been reached and healed by this Jesus-like touch.’ Natalia has started this soulful journey and we look forward to its completion.

Staycation/Vacation 15 July 2016 Akademi Rich Mix, London Reviewed by Nicholas Minns

Natalia Hildner | Photo: Amit Mahendru

afternoon of poetry, music and dance as part of the Mystic Voices Festival at a mehfil-style concert (one in an intimate setting) in Cecil Sharp House. The concert started with a presentation by Hauz Khas Connection – a world music group – of a sarangi solo by the celebrated Suhail Yusuf Khan accompanied by Vishal Nagar on the tabla. With shawls draped over their knees in the true darbãr (court) style, the duo exhibited a great rapport with each other and the audience. Suhail began with rāg Saugandh in vilambit, madhya and drut laya (slow, medium and fast tempo), followed by a thumri dhun (melody) in rāg Misra Maaru Bihag. A catchy melody beautifully executed drew an involuntary ‘aa-ha’ straight from the heart from the audience. In the final section, Vishal Nagar in his tabla solo recited exciting bols (syllables) of compositions, with their various arrangements and permutations that got the kathak dance artists tapping their hands and feet and exclaiming ‘wah wah’(bravo). The audience was then in for a

lyrics and adding bols of abstract kathak compositions to interpret and elaborate the lyrics and the mood of the piece with exquisite abhinaya (expressive technique). This technique was pioneered by Lacchu Maharaj – a doyen of the Lucknow gharana who, by placing images on the mnemonic syllables of pure dance, created snippets of visual imagery. It is used freely by kathak dancers nowadays and Natalia’s use of this technique was superb. The performance ended with a joyous tarana choreographed by her guru Pandit BIrju Maharaj in rāga Bhopali and tal Rupak. Between the two recorded items, Natalia presented the experimental piece which incorporated ghazals in four languages: Arabic, Spanish, Farsi and Urdu, taking two shers (couplets) in each language. Love – human and divine – in its complexity and ambiguity makes the common element in all the four ghazals. It was performed with live music by Milad Yusoufi who played an array of instruments – oud, guitar, cajon, rubab and santoor. The piece aimed to transcend


t is an evening of two separate performances and many contrasts: between student and professional dancers, classical Indian dance and contemporary dance, narrative and abstract forms, and context and style. Staycation is a performance devised by Akademi for two schools in the Tower Hamlets area. Choreographed by Kamala Devam and Honey Kalaria for George Green’s School and by Elena Catalano (assisted by Maryam Shakiba) for Langdon Park School, it is a project in which the performance reveals the value of the steps taken to achieve it. These are the kinds of projects that can change a life, and as such are vital to the development of the arts and education. One of the girls reveals a natural grasp of performing, while one of the boys is clearly thrilled at the opportunity to pursue his sense of self. On the professional side the contrasts constantly illumine the transformation of classical Indian dance within contemporary AUTUMN 2016 PULSE 21


society. Kesha Raithatha presents the traditional form of Indian dance in a narrative work, Ashtapadi – Lalita Lavang, in kathak style with the delight

vehicle is a witty and rhythmical abstraction of episodes that seem to wander in and out of classical dance with a sly and knowing grin. Modasia is a perfect foil for Patel, creating a harmony between the two that makes them and the choreography look as refreshing as a choreographic… vacation.

ARDRA – Impassioned Moods

Archana Ballal | Photo: Simon Richardson

Kesha Raithatha | Photo: Simon Richardson

and precision of her gesture, posture, rhythm and her storytelling eyes. Yet in the final work of the evening, Traces, Raithatha sets aside tradition to reveal a quite different dramatic presence, one that evolves out of a contemporary existential philosophy that demands its own expression. Traces is the result of a 2015 Choreogata commission from Akademi that allowed Raithatha to choose a choreographic mentor (Eva Recacha). Launching bravely into unfamiliar territory with no narrative and an aural environment of powerful prayer chant, a lot of silence and some recorded sounds, Traces is a journey in which Raithatha’s body becomes her eyes as she searches for expression within a fortress of her imagination. There are moments of great beauty and force in which her classical technique sustains her, but it is her choreographic approach and her innate sense of drama that takes her and Traces into exciting, uncharted territory. Archana Ballal does not entirely leave behind her classical Indian training in As Small as a World and as Large as Alone, but she changes the context to a contemporary narrative on agoraphobia affecting a young woman planning to go on holiday. Using text and a contemporary musical context ‒ including a sultry Pharaoh’s Dance by Miles Davis ‒ Ballal represents herself as she is: a contemporary woman in a contemporary environment. She is dressed as she might be in her own flat, surrounded by 22 PULSE AUTUMN 2016

a table with flowers in a vase, a couple of chairs, a suitcase and a wastepaper basket full of crumpled plans. She translates her text into gestures that avoid any literal relationship; they are a parallel physical expression with which she builds her dance. She spends a little too much time with the single idea of unpacking and repacking, losing the careful construction of the opening, but she finishes strongly where she began, with

22 July 2016 Payal Ramchandani Nehru Centre, London Reviewed by Annapoorna Kuppuswamy


ayal Ramchandani, an accomplished and elegant kuchipudi dancer from Newcastle, delighted the audience with some beautiful, well-executed kuchipudi on a hot Friday evening in London. The evening’s theme was aarudhra (impassioned moods), and the artist chose a selection of four pieces, all focused on the god Krishna, the most popular protagonist in Indian classical dances. Payal started with Madhava Panchaksham, a composition describing the resplendent nature of Krishna and his many qualities by Oothukkadu Venkatasubba Iyer, choreographed by her gurus Raja and Radha Reddy. Interspersed with slow-paced theermanams (step sequences), Krishna the incomparable and all his adornments were depicted. Payal’s command over rhythm and quiet confidence were highlighted in sections where

Payal then launched straight into a javali ‒ a light-hearted, racy, pure expression-based piece, Samayamide ra ra, a popular number by Patnam Subramania Iyer. ‘The time is right, please come, my Lord,’ says the heroine, who is a parakiya nayika – a heroine who is married to one man and in love with another. The husband leaves home on business and the heroine takes this opportunity to invite her lover home. Payal was adept at effortlessly portraying the glee of the heroine on her husband’s departure, her annoyance with the reluctant lover and the numerous ways in which she cajoles him to accept her invitation. However, her choice of sancharis (elaborations) could have been better. Too much time was spent on describing the elderly disabled in-laws who were mere props for the main story line and not the focus – although it certainly did introduce some humour, albeit unconventional. The third piece was another classic: Rusli Radha Rusla Madhav, a Marathi composition describing the tiff between Krishna and Radha. Radha is tired of Krishna flirting with the gopis and decides enough is enough. Krishna tries his best to talk his way out of it and win her back, but she stubbornly stays angry. This angers Krishna and both their anger rubs off on all of nature: trees start to wither, birds stop singing, peacocks stop dancing and even Krishna’s flute refuses to play. With some excellent choreography and perfectlycomposed music Payal brought

Jaina Modasia & Vidya Patel | Photo: Simon Richardson

her indecision only delayed. In Two by Two, choreographer Hari Krishnan casts aside both the classical movement and the context. I am perhaps the only person not to have seen Vidya Patel in BBC Young Dancer 2015, so when I see her natural ability in Krishnan’s work alongside Jaina Modasia I wonder who this extraordinary young woman is. First you notice the commanding eyes, and then she begins to move. Krishnan’s use of the thrust and parry gestures of a boxing match is a beautiful example of Patel’s flow extruded through a lyrical body, though it is also apparent in her effortless opening jumps. Krishnan’s

Photo: Sharad Sharma

she chose to concentrate only on the head and neck movements and accomplishing it with ease. Filled with classic kuchipudistyle Krishna postures, the first item, though sedate, was a good introduction for what was to come.

the nature sequences alive. Finally Krishna gives in and apologises and all is right with the world again; however, this sequence could have been shorter. The final piece was from the famous Krishna Leela

Tarangini composed by Narayana Teertha. Payal elaborated on the Krishna Sudama episode which, though popular, is not often danced. Sudama, a childhood friend of Krishna, now lives in poverty. His wife urges him to seek Krishna’s help. Sudama agrees to meet Krishna but refuses to ask for help. There is a happy reunion, they exchange pleasantries and Sudama says nothing of his plight, although Krishna suspects his friend’s dire state. Sudama returns home to find a palace where his hut once stood, to his utter disbelief. It is an incident often quoted for Krishna’s perceptiveness and his generosity. Payal gave a compelling presentation and followed this with several step sequences. She finished with a flourish by performing while standing on a plate, a signature kuchipudi sequence. The slow and fast-paced rhythms, the circular movements, the backward glides, all while on a plate, revealed Payal’s excellent control of movement, rhythm and presentation skills. The final three compositions were all choreographed by Payal herself and were noteworthy. The abhinaya (expressive aspect) throughout was more grounded in lokadharmi (non-stylised) as is the norm in kuchipudi; however, it lacked layering of expressions. Normally an undercurrent expression is overlaid with more transient expressions which give depth to expressions. There were too many transient expressions without a sthayi (base emotion). Details aside, the evening was well-rounded and extremely enjoyable but would have been perfect if only the music volume had been increased a notch and the pace quickened at times.

Kathak Performance

31 July 2016 Rani Khanam and Abhinav Mishra Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, London Reviewed by Sanjay Shetty


he Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s summer school gave us a rare opportunity to watch an experienced and seasoned performer share the stage with an upcoming artist. The evening started with the young dancer Abhinav Mishra. Born into a family of dancers

and musicians, Abhinav, as the disciple of his father Abhay Shankar Mishra (the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s former kathak teacher), has had the advantage of growing up in an environment of classical dance and music. In his short but detailed performance the compositions

needed only a sway, a gaze into eternity or a flirtatious look to convey all that even the lyrics of these poems themselves could not. No translations were required here. She then changed the pace and styling with a Sufi piece on Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin

The dancers were accompanied by Gurdain Singh Rayatt on tabla, Abhay Shankar Mishra on pakhawaj and Pandit Vishwaprakash on harmonium.

Silent Space

9 August 2016 Dance Ihayami Edinburgh Fringe Festival Dancebase, Edinburgh Reviewed by Ian Abbot

‘In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.’ Pico Iyer

Gurdain Rayatt, Abhay Shankar Mishra, Pandit Vishwaprakash & Rani Khanam | Photo: Ankur Singh

were carefully chosen to show the diversity of kathak styles and gharanas: Benares, Lucknow and Jaipur. Opening with a recorded item on Lord Shiva, he then performed with live music, showcasing in particular the technical aspect of kathak. Although a bit nervous at first and sometimes a bit hurried in his movement vocabulary, Abhinav was still able to capture the joy and energy in the technique of kathak. In the second half, Rani Khanam transported us from West Kensington to the playful streets of Vrindavan and to the majestic Mughal courts, and to within hearing of the temple bells of the river Yamuna and the qawwalis of Ajmer Sharif. Rani uses a personal style of kathak that emphasises dynamic use of space, fluid torso and graceful yet powerful movement vocabulary. Her first piece, Yamuna, which praised the power and the journey of this sacred river, portrayed her style at its best. The second piece, Darbari Salaami, gave us a glimpse into the bygone age of the Mughal courts. Here she showed absolute control of her body and her ability to hold the attention of the audience with very few gestures and movements. Her mastery over her expressions and the use of subtle and nuanced choreography was highlighted in the ghazal (lyric poem, in Urdu) and thumri (devotional love song, in the Brij dialect). Dynamism was here a very different concept. She

Chishti. In the informality and live effect in the musical setting and her deep and soul-stirring devotional bhaav (expression), the look and feel of a pure Sufi tradition was seamlessly combined with the classicism of kathak. She also presented technical dance accompanied by live music presenting various compositions in fast tempo. Beautiful twists, melodious footwork, pitchperfect recitation, precise angles, fluid movements and a freedom in her sam (final pose) characterised this section. A footwork section stood out which she embellished with imagery of raindrops where one could actually feel as if the stage was being showered with tiny drops of rain. Her gatnikas (stylised gait) in which she showcased the regal gait of an elephant (gaja-gamini) and swan (hansagamini) were a master-class in use of the spine and breathing control. Rare compositions like naav ki gat (boat) were a treat for the eyes. Some of the gats (gaits, walks) were based on the book Bani written by the last Nawab of Lucknow, Wajid Ali Shah, where she gave us a visual insight into the pages of this book. The performance was a journey that I did not want to end. A perfect amalgamation of Hindu and Muslim traditions, Rani Khanam keeps alive the true essence of kathak. Full of oldworld charm and grace, she had a soul in her dance that is rarely seen in present times.


ilent Space is presented as a series of extracts over thirty minutes that will eventually lead to a full show. As it stands there is no visible thread weaving the episodic sections together. We move from a five-dancer (Priya Shrikumar, Seona Elise Robinson, Karen Watts, Kirsten Newell and Siva Sivapatham) group bharatanatyam choreography with pre-recorded music to a duet, to a solo with live flautist to smaller trios etc. Through the programme notes the audience learns that in Silent Space ‘performers both instigate and respond to sound, and its absence, through movement, drawing deeply from the tradition of South Asian dance’ – a promising premise; however, there is so little silence and space that I question the title. Opening with an excerpt from Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor Opus 110 is an adventurous choice but there is texture and melody aplenty for the dancers to hook into and accentuate their movements. However, silence is brutally unforgiving, and was unable to hide the ill-timed footwork codas that were meant to be presented in unison: the five dancers were consistently asynchronous – when the simple choreography called for one sound we were presented with five. This uneven technique was consistent across the entire body of each of the dancers. Facial expressions and focus in the same section ranged from resting to forced grimace to step concentration to natural smile AUTUMN 2016 PULSE 23


Photo: Maria Falconer

– in this state faces weren’t able to amplify the choreography, leaving me unable to decipher the intention. ‘When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we’d be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing.’ Haruki Murakami Marion Kenny offers a compelling performance on flute and her playful call and response duet with Shrikumar is a moment of light that delivers genuine interaction and demonstrates the intrinsic relationship between movement and music that sits at the heart of this form. Dance Ihayami is dedicated to the ‘contemporisation of Indian dance’ and ‘challenges ideas about Indian classical dance’. They are a lone South Asian dance voice in Scotland (in a country with 5 million people) delivering valuable classes, engagement and providing opportunities for community showcases. However, it is reflective of the dispersal of individuals and companies across the UK who find it almost impossible to form a critical community and share practice for the good of bharatanatyam. There is little for Scottish and Edinburgh audiences to compare it to, however, in comparison to artists and companies in England or who presented at Navadisha 2016. The choreography, execution (lacklustre air-cutting geometric arms are prevalent) and musicality are not equitable. Silent Space was presented second in a double bill with the Swedish hip-hop duo Lin Dylin who performed a piece about manhood and intimacy using their fusion of b-boying with contemporary dance. 24 PULSE AUTUMN 2016

It was an odd programming choice as conceptually or choreographically the two works shared little. I would find it hard to see Silent Space touring UK venues as there are other artists who are delivering a more complex narrative, executing a higher technique, shifting bharatanatyam forward and asking questions about how the form can resonate with audiences from different communities. ‘The world is never quiet, even its silence eternally resounds with the same notes, in vibrations which escape our ears. As for those that we perceive, they carry sounds to us, occasionally a chord, never a melody.’ Albert Camus

of chairs. With a minuscule 4m x 3m stage, red and black voiles covering the mirrors and lilac pelmets fringing the ceiling – if I were to describe it as intimate, that would be generous. With the changing-rooms in close proximity to the bar, we hear the ankle bells before seeing Gabriela Albornoz. Walking through the audience to reach the stage to a pre-recorded Indo/Gypsy fusion soundtrack – we’re introduced to the Indian part of India Flamenco. In full traditional costume the dancer presented fifteen minutes of condensed codas, limited abhinaya and a number of leaden arm mudras. The stage size did little to aid her performance as there was little chance to spread and extend her limbs as she would have been grazing the walls and ceiling. Her eyes and

side to side. However, we were in a house of flamenco and there is little need for extraneous details like set or lighting when the flamenco dancer Maria Del Mar Suarez comes to the stage. In a theatrical waft of her tasselled shawl I witnessed one of the most engaging and magnetic solo performances of any dance style. Accompanied by Danielo Olivera (cante), Daniel Martinez (toque) and a whole lot of jaleo (encouragement), she delivered a spirit, execution and an emotional connection with her choreography that was sharp, powerful and charged. Her pneumatic footwork was effervescent and the size of the stage accentuated her movement and drew focus towards her commanding presence. Such a formidable dancer casts

India Flamenco

8 August 2016 Alba Flamenca Alba Flamenca, Edinburgh Reviewed by Ian Abbot

‘There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.’ Robert Louis Stevenson


lilting Irish voiceover begins and regales us with stories of how the gypsies travelled from the north of India through the Middle East and into Europe; we hear about the history of the king of the gypsies, how an ancient mirror was shattered into a thousand pieces and if you ever see a piece of a broken mirror – you should give it to a gypsy. The audience are guided gently through a loose migration tale via the lightlydramatic narrative and three female solos in bharatanatyam, belly-dance and flamenco. In a converted dance studio on a side street in Edinburgh, Alba Flamenca packed in a sold-out sixty-plus audience complete with rubbing knees on the back

Photo: Jane Hobson

face felt like she was stuck behind a long shadow and it underlined the gulf in ability when Albornoz a film of treacle; it was a display returned for the finale when all and not a performance. three dancers and two musicians came to the stage for one last ‘My purpose in performing is to communicate the joy I experience hurrah. India Flamenco was last staged at The Fringe in 2013 and in living.’ John Denver three years on it’s a great evening of entertainment. Seeing the As the journey moved from evolution of a form and how the India to the Middle East we’re different styles have adapted and introduced to Iraya Noble taken ownership of the stomp, complete with hip scarf, coin voice and body percussion is belt, zills (finger cymbals) and an entertaining history lesson headband who approached the with a little creative licence stage and struggled with the (as flamenco shares the kathak pedestrian crossover duet with lineage from NW India/Rajasthan Albornoz. This jarred her early rather than the southern temple rhythm in the opening solo dance of bharatanatyam) and an choreography before growing exceptional Maria Del Mar Suarez. in confidence with a fine use of the zills emphasising oodles of ‘The artistic image is not figures of eight; her abdominal isolation was as crisp as a popper intended to represent the thing itself, but, rather, the reality of – the genuine snaps embellished by the hip scarf and coins shifted the force the thing contains.’ our attention, gaze and ears from James Baldwin


Unravel the wonders of Buddhist Monuments

An innovative and visually stunning thematic dance production, featuring dancers from Apsaras Arts, Singapore

Thursday 10 November 2016 / 7:30pm / The Bhavan Centre, London

Tickets £12 Front Stalls / £10 Back Stalls / £8 Balcony | / 020 7381 3086 / 4608

Saturday 12 November 2016 / 7:30pm / The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool Tickets £10 / £8 concessions | / 0151 291 3949







Rose Bulbul and the

A Promenade Performance

A story of love and acceptance of the outsider, told by actors, dancers and musicians, journeying through the grounds of Luton’s Stockwood Park. “It was an exquisite piece of art work – I will come back again and again to see it.”

“The Rose and the Bulbul combined various cultures, various talents... I do not have words for it, it was such an amazing experience. We need many more such shows.”

Back by popular demand 14-16 July 2017 Touring UK Gardens Summer 2017 Enquiries: Photos: Simon Richardson





connecting asian dance and music communities


Pulse 134 Autumn 2016  

Now that South Asian classical music and dance have been established in the UK, how are young musicians and dancers building their careers?...

Pulse 134 Autumn 2016  

Now that South Asian classical music and dance have been established in the UK, how are young musicians and dancers building their careers?...