Samyoga @ The Southbank Centre (Alchemy Festival) Review

Travelling 5,000 miles from Odisha, Eastern India, to London’s Southbank, the traditional classical Indian dance form, Odissa makes its mark at this year’s Alchemy Festival. Referred to in the Natya Sastra (an ancient Indian text believed to have been written between 200BC and 200AD that blue prints the theatrical world in terms of stage craft and music) Odissi is said to be one of the oldest Indian classical dance forms to have been created and performed.

 Celebrating 6 years at the Southbank Centre, Alchemy invigorates the usually grey climes of London with its rich and diverse programme of dance, drama, workshops and more hailing from South Asia. Gracing the stage with their latest dance work, Samyoga, Nrityagram simply astound with their magnetic production. Award winning Odissi dancer Surupa Sen and Nrityagram Choodamani recipient Bijayini Satpathy collaborate to showcase 80 minutes of pure magic.

Showcasing the centuries old artform of Odissi, Nrityagram transport it to the 21st century. Solo sequences emit style and grace as both Sen and Satpathy display a masterclass of presentation; every hand gesture, every minute change of facial expression, every turn of the head tells a story. Duets power across the stage, a multi layered puzzle of thunderous stamps, continuous spins, arching arms reminiscent of flamenco, and opera-esque theatricality hypnotises. The entire performance induces the audience into a trance.

This review would not be justified without the mentioning of one of the most crucial features of the evening… the musical accompaniment. An auditory framework of tumoutuous emotion, all 4 musicians create a soundtrack busy with energy. Parshuram Das supplies weightless and flighty overtones on the bamboo flute whilst Sanjib Kunda evokes tranquility, contributing a sustained energy on the violin. Jateen Sahu breathes life into the already vibrant production with the encompassing tones of the Harmonium and Rohan Dahale contributes a fiery, heart thumping quality, on the Mardala (drums). The latter 2 musicians supply vocals throughout the performance, vocals dancing amongst the musical accompaniment to create a truly enjoyable evening. 4/5

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Samyoga was performed at the The Purcell Room (Southbank Centre) on Tuesday 19th May as part of this year’s Alchemy Festival. For more information on the festival, visit here…

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