‘Classical Departures’ at Alchemy
- Kalpana Raghuraman
e-mail: kalpanarts@gmail.com

May 3, 2013

Anita Ratnam’s solo Ma Hyphenate was one of the four pieces presented during ‘Classical Departures’ as part of the Alchemy Festival at the South Bank Center in London on April 12.

Defining classical and contemporary dance is very complex if not impossible, and this evening showed that once again. Every piece had its distinct way of departing from the classical source of inspiration making clear why Gauri Sharma Tripathi had programmed the evening the way she had: there are multiple ways and no choice is ‘better’ than the other. 

As the only artist currently living in India, Anita Ratnam’s work (directed by Hari Krishnan) mixed elements of theater and expanded definitions of ‘dance’. Bringing various references of the female forms together, Ratnam created an ambience of mysticism, potency and sweetness. She showed us that the questioning about relevance and strength of classical forms is very much alive in India and horizons are being expanded there more than we might know or think. Seeing a mature performer like Anita Ratnam on stage also acknowledged that embodiment is an aspect that is vital for any choreography to work, especially solo work. In my eyes this is essential to create a shift from the obsession on ‘young, beautiful bodies’ to the glorification of the human body in general.

Slide show

Photos: Vipul Sangoi

Kalpana Raghuraman is a choreographer, performer, cultural anthropologist and resident artiste at Korzo theater, the Netherlands.