The rhythms of life aren’t always as comfortable as the phrase might suggest. And so it is with Aditi Mangaldas’ latest work, Inter_rupted which is takes the audience through a range of emotions from exhilaration to an overwhelming urge to stop the chaos and noise to let us rest.
In this sense, although an absorbing piece, it is not without its challenges for the audience.
From the opening – a single dancer shaking and hyper-ventilating with the speed of his moves – we are aware that this work is not simply a contemporary celebration of the classical Indian kathak dance.
There is no obvious central narrative although its inspiration taken from exploration of fragility, disintegration and renewal is clear.
In some scenes there are seven dancers joined by musicians on stage. The noise created by stamping feet, shouting, drumming and the lack of symmetry in the movement of the dancers as a troupe, gives the impression we could be on a busy Delhi street. It feels chaotic and isolating. Yet in other scenes the noise and energy of the dance create exhilaration and unity.
Similarly in the quieter moments Mangaldas gives us images of struggle with dancers dragging their bodies across the floor; as well as some beautiful moments of spiritual lightness and surrender.
The influence of Farooq Chaudhry’s dramaturg will be familiar to fans of Akram Khan Company, particularly the choreography of seated dancers whose movements become so closely intertwined that their limbs become almost indistinguishable.
Mangaldas is both choreographer and principal dancer of the piece. Her solo dances are a wonderful contemporary expression of classical kathak and the use of shadows and silhouettes created by Fabiana Piccioli’s lighting adds a spiritual dimension to the movement by giving a sense of reaching for something higher.
There is something beautiful in the simplicity of any traditional dance that makes you feel that you could join in. And in staying close to her kathak roots Mangaldas has created a piece that, although challenging at times, captures the rush of feeling truly alive.
Inter_rupted was at The Lowry on 25 October 2016.