Often dance is criticised for using mundane subjects to inspire choreography. Well, Chitraleka Bolar (Artistic Director of Chitraleka Dance Company) cannot be accused of doing so! She has created a performance that explores science and Indian mythology through dance. From Stardust to Life combines scientific explanations on the origins of the universe, with Darwin’s theory of evolution and Hindu mythology the ‘Dashavatara’ (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu). This fusion of the scientific, theoretical and mythological is interpreted through the Indian classical dance form of bharatanatyam and contemporary western movement.
As should any performance that explores the origins of the universe it begins appropriately with the ‘Big Bang’. Through contemporary and Indian dance movement the performers depict the various stages of creation starting from the Big Bang and moving on through Time, Light and Heavy Matter, Matter and Anti-Matter and finishing the first half with Explosion and New Beginnings. Like most viewing audience I have no in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, but was able to easily follow the narrative of the first half. The dancers’ movement was lively and exciting mimicking the sudden expansion of matter. I was able to visualise the dancers as colliding particles energetically bouncing through the space. Without doubt the two male dancers (Akash Odedra and Subhash Viman) stole the first half of the performance with their acrobatic movements, using high leaps and jumps. The movement was reminiscent of Indian folk dances such as bhangra (in which balancing tricks and acrobatic flips are performed) and raas (where male dancers spin and turn on their knees along the floor).
The second half of the performance illustrates the ‘Dashavatara’, the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu (Matsya: Fish, Koorma: Turtle, Varaha: Boar, Narasimha: Half Man-Half Lion, Varmana: Dwarf, Parashurama: Axe-wielding Warrior, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki) and is shown through the dance style bharatanatyam. The choreography was truly amazing with stunning spatial patterns, beautiful hand movements and thrilling footwork. The female dancers (Alice Amrapali and Johanna Lanzaro) were particulary impressive, whilst all the dancers demonstrated outstanding technique with quick footwork. The movement was precise and agile just as bharatanatyam should be. The expression of the various Hindu mythological stories was clearly communicated.
The traditional costumes in the second half of the performance were breathtaking. Vibrantly coloured and patterned, the material moved along with the dancers accentuating the shapes and lines created. The dance movement was complemented perfectly by the music (composed by Praveen D Rao and Mark Lockett) especially in the second half when it functioned as a link binding the two halves of the performance together. The music added depth to the performance and created a magical and mysterious atmosphere.
I thoroughly enjoyed this performance; my eyes were glued to the stage throughout. It managed to be both exciting and entertaining. This performance can be enjoyed by people of all backgrounds and is suitable for most age groups.