PART visual feast, part textile lesson, SARI leaves you longing to hand back your old wardrobe and find a new way to dress. Brought to the UK stage by Kerala-based Daksha Sheth Dance Company, the show pays homage to that most versatile of garments, the sari, and feels like a genuine labour of love.
From the cotton plants growing in the field, through the spinning, weaving and dyeing of fabric, to the eventual wearing – the “life cycle” of the sari is brought to glorious life.
Choreographer Sheth is known for taking traditional movement styles from her base in southern India and blending them with contemporary dance and aerial work, all of which we see here, performed by her strong six-person ensemble of dancers, plus Sheth herself. It’s fun to watch – to the point where you wonder whether the show might actually be better targeted at family audiences, rather than a general dance crowd.
Certainly there’s little demand on our attention span, with brief segments coming to a close before Sheth’s choreography has a chance to evolve or grow. So what triumphs here is the setting (if we put aside the frustrating curtain of cotton which partially obscures our view). Each section arrives in a cornucopia of colours, as material is swung on, thrown into the air or wrapped around the dancers’ bodies.
By the end, SARI has become a beautiful fashion show, with “models” demonstrating the various ways this fascinating unstitched cloth can be worn.
*Tramway, Glasgow, 29 and 30 September