Review: Monsoon Tales
Artistic Director: Shantha Rao
Dancers: Santosh Mennon (Bharathanatyam)
Priya Sundar (Bharathanatyam)
Tuhina Bhattacharya (Odissi)
Mukti Shri (Kathak)
Rating: 3 out of 5
What was only forecast as a rainy Thursday in Leeds saw the arrival of a Monsoon; but not one you may be familiar with. The second of SAA-uk’s concert series which take place at the Seven Arts Centre, saw the Annapurna Dance Company present Monsoon Tales a performance which displayed a variety of popular dance from northern, southern, and eastern India.
The first dance presented was Odissi, one of India’s most popular dance forms. Tuhina Bhattacharya presented this dance form beautifully really engaging the audience with this style of dance that is based around creating ornamental patterns using body movements. The odissi style embraces repeated use of the tribhangi, or thrice deflected posture, in which the body is bent in three places, approximating the shape of a helix and Tuhina managed to deliver this dance with fluid grace and a beautiful lyrical quality. The second dancer, Priya Sundar, presented us with a different dance style, bharatanatyam, a 3000 year old dance mainly found in southern India. This dance style is based around an extensive array of hand gestures and rhythmic footwork, set to complex rhythms and Priya did not disappoint with her performance showing excellent precision. Despite a small technical glitch towards the end of her dance with the audio CD which provided the backing stuttering until the end, she continued as if nothing untoward was happening; a true professional! Mukti Shri was the third dancer and gave the performance of the night treating the audience to the Kathak style of dance. With fast rhythmic footwork set to complex time cycles and empathic spins Mukti captivated the audience with her execution of the dance receiving a rousing round of applause. The final dance of the first half was by Santosh Mennon who like Priya danced in the bharatanatyam style and has studied at the Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts in Chennai. Although this is usually a dance traditionally performed by women Santosh gave a performance that not only encapsulating the extensive hand gestures of the dance but the performance also had a sense of strength. These fantastic performances left the audience with great anticipation for the second half.
The second half of the performance took the dances that had been performed and put them together with an ancient Indian story narrated by Annapurna’s artistic director Shanta Rao. Two sections of the story of Rama and Sita were portrayed very nicely by the dance company. The first part of the story depicted Sita being entrapped by a golden fawn, which the Demon King Ravana had conjured. This dance was delightfully bought to life by Tuhina as Sita and Priya as the golden fawn. The second part of the story saw Santosh take the role of Rama who defeats Ravana with a special bow. The masculinity Santosh bought to his first half performance was again present in this scene. The final dance section of this half saw all of the performers join together along with Shantha in a dedication to Gandhi and to wish everybody a Happy Diwali. Overall the entire evening was very enjoyable and the whole evening was kept engaging with the wonderful voice of Ramya Tangirala and the performance was something very different to what you may normally see in Leeds.
The SAA-uk concert series continues on the Thursday 24th November 2011 with Unfurl, a band whose music expands across continents, combining Indian ragas, flamenco and Arabic music with improvisation to create an original sound ranging from the dramatic to the sublime. For more information call SAA-uk on, 0113 244 5523, visit the website, www.saa-uk.org.uk or email, email@example.com