Smooth footwork in marriage of two dance forms

The principal dancers in Prakriti Vikriti - Nature's Nature Revisited made brilliant use of space.
The principal dancers in Prakriti Vikriti - Nature's Nature Revisited made brilliant use of space.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

DANCE

PRAKRITI VIKRITI - NATURE'S NATURE REVISITED

Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (Sifas)

Esplanade Theatre/Last Saturday 


From the pairing of unlikely dance forms to the contrast in colour and costume, Prakriti Vikriti foregrounded duality.

First produced in 2018, the performance, which explores nature as both a life-giving and destructive force, returns to the stage this year as part of the Sifas Festival of Arts.

Instead of downplaying the polarity of the two Indian classical dance forms - bharatanatyam and kathak - the performance sought to emphasise their differences and marry the two through a converging story line.

Within the first two segments of the dance, it became clear that the Sifas' faculty had picked up and dusted off traditional curriculum, infusing it with pockets of interpretive movement that caught the audience's eye instantly.

The contrast was amplified by the use of bright green, yellow and red hues for the bharatanatyam costumes and tones of cool white and blue, as well as dull gold, for the kathak dancers.

Both teams of principal dancers made brilliant use of space, coupling intricate positioning with smooth footwork that came together seamlessly.

The music, an eclectic mix of poetry from ancient Tamil and Sanskrit literature combined with Hindi and Telugu lyrics, complemented the transitions between the two dance forms.

The sharp and crisp variations of mudras (hand gestures) by the bharatanatyam dancers depicted the flurry of activity during summer and spring, bringing to life the slithering motion of a snake or the flight of a bird.

The fluid flourishes and pirouettes of the kathak dancers expertly portrayed the cold winter months or a sudden monsoon downpour.

Two memorable sections of the choreography were the whip-like shuddha nrittam (pure movement) segment by the bharatanatyam dancers and the rapid-fire footwork of the kathak dancers, led by Guru Mulla Afsar Khan, to recreate the sound of raindrops within the theatre.

Although there is room for the supporting dancers to improve in technique and musicality, their emotive delivery stood them in good stead.

The dancers communicated a reverence of nature through their work, whether the joy of first love during spring, the thirst and suffering brought on by a drought or the moral dilemma of hunting.

This performance especially hit home amid a pandemic thought to have been caused by the conflict between humans and the wild.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2021, with the headline 'Smooth footwork in marriage of two dance forms'. Subscribe