Audience left in a dream by spectacular visions
Initium *** Ocean Kitchen BEAUTIFUL, elegant dance is a joy to behold, wherever it takes place.
The language of gesture, movement and emotion is capable of transcending all geographical and cultural barriers when it's used as eloquently as Akademi South Asian Dance UK did.
While Akademi have used conventional stages, they're no strangers to the unusual. Opening arts centres or performing on marches were hardly challenges, so performing in the cavernous Ocean Kitchen was a breeze.
Making full use of that space, dancers performed up the ramps, on ledges, stairways and all around, in the middle of and even above the spectators. It would take a very jaded viewer to remain unmoved by the sheer spectacle of it all.
Subtitled Where Dreams Begin, the show melded Kathak with modern dance, circus and the folk theatre form Yakshagana. It was concerned with the way that dreams change, combining initially clashing elements which resolve in unexpected ways.
Much of the piece seemed very much to be a battle between good and evil, but the meanings clearly went deeper than that.
Where the show worked so well was that, even though knowing the exact story would have helped, the actual narrative wasn't essential to enjoying the performance.
Two demonic figures, both clad in black and red robes, one with an enormous headdress, the other on stilts, weaved in and out of the audience menacingly. Meanwhile, warrior strong-men posed, flexed and danced around while a chorus of Indian dancers performed or looked as the show was gradually brought to a climax. The warriors and the demons danced around and fought each other to the inevitable conclusion.
At times the audience seemed so hypnotised that even when encouraged to clap along, they couldn't. Eventually, they got the hang of it and joined in with gusto. When the end finally came, it was as though they'd been roused from a dream themselves, refreshed, grinning and thoroughly entertained.
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