DanceNorth WestReview

Morph Dance Company: Woven – The Lowry, Salford  

Choreographers: Subhash Viman Gorania, Chitraleka Bolar and Saju Hari

Composers: Sikkil Gurucharan and Anil Srinivasan

Reviewer: Dave Cunningham

As the title suggests The Morph Dance Company’s Woven mingles classical Indian dance with contemporary techniques.

The curtain raiser Devi, choreographed by Subhash Viman Gorania, is very much a traditional dance. Members of The Pushpanjali Dance Company use their bodies to form living statues and a notable feature is the dancers using their feet as percussive instruments stamping out a dramatic rhythm.

 Priye Charusheele– a solo performed by Subhash Viman Gorania but conceived and choreographed by Chitraleka Bolar- is likewise traditional. Although the story of Krishna’s courtship of Radha is told in the form of a dance the movements are so intricate as to resemble mime rather than dance. The dance is highly ritualised to the extent that each action – the shape of the hand with little finger extended- seems to have a significance that may escape audiences not already familiar with Indian dance.

Eka, on the other hand, is strikingly contemporary and very accessible. Choreographed by Subhash Viman Gorania the dance opens with three dancers, dressed in mournful black, throwing ominous shadows on the wall. The dramatic opening makes dancers Anaya Bolar, Emiko Jane Ishii and Kesha Raithatha resemble The Furies from legend particularly with the eerie score, sounding like whispering voices, adding to the supernatural atmosphere. It is a performance full of contrasts with the middle section, limiting the space for dancing to a tight illuminated area, bringing a strong sense of struggling against confinement. The conclusion, with a pulsing electronic beat, is bang up to date.

The conclusion Fly From, choreographed by Saju Hari, is the most ambitious part of the show balancing traditional and contemporary techniques in a single dance. The dance is a comment on the need to strip away modern materialism and get back to basics. Ironically it opens with sole dancer Subhash Viman Gorania emerging from the audience suited and booted as if ready for a day in the office. Subhash’s efforts to get rid of material objects are painful to observe. Stripping away his jacket results in the dancer literally tying himself in knots and undertaking what looks like an exercise session designed in hell. In a sinister dance Subhash undertakes a terrifying series of contortions including twitching like an addict in withdrawal and crawling around the stage like a spider or as if crippled. It is a something of a relief when Subhash is freed from material limitations and able to perform the more expansive and physically liberating traditional dance moves.

Woven is a fascinating introduction to Indian dance although it is hard to avoid the feeling that audiences who already have background knowledge of the techniques might get the most from the show.

Reviewed on 24 April 2019 | Image: Contributed

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