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SPIRALS, a convergence of dance, music and theatre
featuring Anita Ratnam with Anil Srinivasan and Sikkil Gurucharan  (2014)


Performance at Dakshina’s 11th Fall Festival; Harman Hall; November 6-8, 2014

7 in a Row: Indiadance
- George Jackson, danceview times, 11 Nov 2014
Anita Ratnam, on stage at Harman Hall the evening of Nov. 6, has power. The lift of her torso when she asserts herself is imperial. The stances she takes - often in wide, 2nd position turn-out with a deep, rock-solid plié - leave indelible images. Ratnam has worked in Chennai, India and around the world to bring Indiadance up to date. The results reminded me of the 1920s and ‘30s, but perhaps I need to reset my clock. In an underwater dance, Ratnam lay stretched on the ground, her torso pulsing supplely like Mary Wigman did in her gentler solos. For a dance of blossoming, Ratnam used her arms and hands to spin silken strands into surrounding space, like Tilly Losch had done in her “Hand Dance”. Wigman, Losch and other Western dancers incorporated Eastern influences into their modernism at the beginning of the 20th Century. Ratnam, starting in the historic India she inherited, has journeyed westward and forward to arrive at similar stylizations. Her third dance was a detailed retelling of the Ramayana epic. Although this long narrative might seem to Westerners slightly reminiscent of Ruth St. Denis, wasn’t Ratnam radically streamlining traditional India pantomime? The choreography had an art deco appearance and the dancer herself as Prince Rama and other figures was being subtlely ironic in her gender bending as well as convincingly impressive!
Collaborating with Ratnam were two musicians and a director. The composer Anil Srinivasan accompanied her on a western instrument, the piano. It sounded impressionistically apt. The singer Sikkil Gurucharan vocalized and gestured in the Carnatic manner (a droning, rhythmic, often melancholy melodiousness). Hari Krishnan, a dance scholar who doubts the authenticity of Indiadance, directed.

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