Thursday, August 13, 2009

Review: Yathra (Journey) ****

Appearing as part of the Festival of Spirituality & Peace, Yathra (Journey) is an original piece by Ragamala Dance. The company specialise in a modernisation of Bharatanatyam, a classical form of Indian dance, without compromising its rich and spiritual heritage. Artistic director Ranee Ramaswamy and her talented co-dancers infuses this blend of old and new with unique grace and energetic fluidity, resulting in something quite beautiful to behold.

The show is made up of three stylish and enjoyable pieces, culminating in the undisputed highlight, which is Yathra (Journey) itself. Accompanied live by the expert playing of sitarist Shubhendra Rao and the modified cello of Saskia Rao de Haas, the company present a piece expressing life's journey through their compelling style of dance, with all the stages - from birth through death to rebirth - expressed with precise and well-choreographed abstract movement and emotion.

The layered strings of the accompaniment are hypnotic and - when combined with the visual feast offered by Ragamala Dance and the awe-inspiring setting of the beautiful St John's church - there are times when you are absolutely transfixed by the sensory allure and spiritual elegance of what is happening before you.

Yathra (Journey) runs until August 23rd (not 20th) at St John's church. £12 (£10 concession).

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