The opening sequence featured a dancer holding a pose, whose limbs were being manipulated by fellow dancers, an attempt by this Dancers’ Collective to put their own forms under the microscope for closer examination.
What then does emerge from this probing? The thirty-minute piece has the structures of classical forms of mainly kathak but also featured strands from the asymmetric and curve-enhancing odissi, lushly offered by Scheherazaard Cooper. The elements that are retained are the invocatory passages with the familiar gestures of gathering flowers, beautifying self, offering tributes; the pure dance passages of crisp vocalised rhythms bravely recited and executed without tabla accompaniment; sudden bursts of abhinaya such as the water drenching sequence and a joyous tarana-like celebratory dance particularly glorious with the singing of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
The additions to the classical repertoire were the use of contact and play with weight. This added some surprise moments: the backward fall from a formalised posture was one. The other unexpected moment came when a supine dancer is touched by her male partner, an utterly tender moment so unfamiliar is touch in Indian dance. However, this was not followed up. Perhaps the duet with exchange of weights and lifts requires further technique training. These small attempts to open the space may be insignificant to audiences at Resolutions but for Indian dance are bold strokes.
On the whole the piece had a polish and sophistication: beautiful costume design, a lighting plan that was mostly effective and the dancers had invested enough rehearsal time so that the performance held together despite one member of the Company pulling out. Judicious pruning of the many sections would enhance the impact.
The four dancers who had henceforth been ‘senior students’ launched a bid to join the ranks of upcoming artists. As long as they stay in an ensemble and don’t get ideas beyond their station to go solo, they will be fine. Sanjay Shetty, Pranav Yajnik and Nisha Radia were the kathak dancers. We look forward to the fruits of further thought and work from this group.