Sampradaya are a well-established dance Company based in Missisagua, Canada led by Lata Pada, with several productions to their credit. On a recent stopover in the UK with performances in Birmingham and London, the group of seven dancers left an impression on this reviewer of their clarity, power and grace in movement, revealing the high quality of their training.
The evening opened with Dashavartara, the well-known story of the ten incarnations of Vishnu favoured by choreographers for its scope in dramatisation. Performed by an ensemble against a beautiful backdrop of bold symbolic images of Vishnu that hung across the length of the stage, the interpretation had much to commend it. The choreography rooted in bharatanatyam was fresh and innovative and kept one mentally stimulated throughout the sixty minutes through clever use of space and time. There was great energy in the performers, (prominent use of the leap) combined by a rootedness.
The piece worked as engaging dance theatre. The content and storylines were beautifully treated with balance and economy. The young dancers appeared comfortable in the abhinaya sections. An original score by Praveen D. Rao and A.A. Sharma supported the dance effectively and the lighting design and costumes further enhanced the aesthetic enjoyment.
The second part of the evening presented Howzzat, a modern piece commenting on the place of cricket within the culture of the Indian subcontinent. This work did not have the maturity of the first piece. The video footage of live historical matches and the familiar images of children playing cricket in the street, juxtaposed unevenly with the dance. Howzaat lacked stamina and was repetitive in its dance vocabulary. The use of cricket movement added to the narrative nature in which this piece was choreographed. Howzaat’s high school literalness was unnecessary and lacked sophistication. Given greater thought and re-work, the piece could shed some skins and emerge stronger.