When six flames from a ritual oil lamp were lit in Korzo in The Hague on Thursday by The Hague’s mayor, the Indian ambassador and festival curators, the eleventh edition of the India Dance Festival could start both live and online. Always fascinating to see how a delicate and delicate dance atmosphere hovers like a soft smoke through the building for ten days, which is temporarily populated by dancers and gurus who, through master-apprentice relationships, have mastered one of the many Indian (classical) dances styles for years. From more familiar styles like kathak and bharata natyam, to the revived, ancient and graceful Odissi idiom or the dramatic kuchipudi movements with Sanskrit roots. In addition, the India Dance Festival likes to challenge artists to step outside their comfort zone through collaborations with creators from dance movements such as hip hop and modern dance.
However, not all performances appear to be ‘readable’ to outsiders, although they are performed by hyper-concentrated dancers who boast detailed body-motor skills, often with references to Hindu sacrificial rituals and temple dancing. In any case, the solo performances on Thursday and Saturday left something to be desired.
Especially the British, award-winning dancer Aakash Odedra did not live up to expectations. On paper, choreographies made especially for him by international stars like Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Russell Maliphant promised to form an untraditional triptych. In practice, it turned out to be primarily form experiments with erected objects. ‘Larbi’ let Odedra in constellations navigate smoothly and thoughtfully for fifteen minutes through a course of fifteen swinging hanging lamps. It was hardly to be seen that behind this lay a power play of light, darkness, clarity, and sound waves.
Maliphant introduced the kathak dancer cut through a more exciting lighting design, from spotlights bundled to a barred grille and zebra crossing. To a gloomy sound design of industrial noise, Odedra tried to push its cyclical expansion into the angular lighting, with an enclosed world as an oppressive result.
Some excitement came from the classic hue echoes, where kathak icon Aditi Mangaldas had the British dancer circle with accelerated footwork through a mini jungle of bell strings. Why the relationship with ancestors was explored by wrapping these threads in a tangle, by God. But when he tied them around his ankles, he again felt familiar ground beneath his masterful feet.
Lefgozer Shailesh Bahoran, one of the most versatile choreographers from the Netherlands, with Hindu roots, had in his solo Kishan the unfortunate thing that a running lamp got stuck in the ridge while it had to swing down to a modest finale. But even with the intended play of dancing light objects, his hour-long solo was limited to a moving attempt to capture the complex relationship of his 8-year-old autistic son. As a hip-hop dancer, Bahoran can tilt his expressive body in all directions, hyperflexibly and wonderfully. But the symbolism behind his movement struggle with a mobile colossus of square frames remained hidden, as did the intimacy of the wordless communication with his non-verbal son.
India Dance Festival 2022
Opening performance by Aakash Odedra Company. Choreographies by Aditi Mangaldas, Russell Maliphant and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.
Kishan by IRCompany / Shailesh Bahoran.
19 and 21/5, Korzo, The Hague. India Dance Festival lasts until 29/5. Kishan is still on tour until 16/6.