A pool of golden light hits the stage and six dancers dressed in rose, violet and bronze silk dart across the space. They form complex compositions as they fall in unison and then break free from each other. Heels brush the floor, feet stamp and hands begin to shake, fingers fluttering in the air as they wait in anticipation for a message from the Gods.
Choreographer Seeta Patel creates an evocative, visceral interpretation of iconic ballet, The Rite of Spring, by using classical Indian dance form Bharatanatyam. Traditionally a solo dance performed exclusively by women, Patel has cast a male dancer as the Chosen One. To the music of Stravinsky, the pagan story is a ritual celebration of the arrival of spring, where growth and fertility only happen once a human sacrificial ceremony is performed.
Every staccato note is articulated through the body with absolute precision and sublime execution. In the second half, the pace quickens and the stage becomes a vision of colourful fabric as dancers weave through the space using sharp turns and twists.
Patel allows each image to resonate; when the piece comes to a close, a veil of long red silk covers the Chosen One to form a web of fabric that bleeds across the stage. He stands still, motionless, as he awaits his fate.
Patel’s accompanying work, Dance Dialogues, was created over a week’s residency supported by the National Youth Dance Company and Kadam Dance. It is a conversation between eastern and western movement in which six dancers learn to find a common language through different intricate pathways. The timing and rhythm is seamless as they cross each other, emerge and re-form.