Creative Dance transcendent
Sangeeta Ghosh and Kalithasan Chandrasegaram are as inventive with their titles as they are with their choreography. Transdicionale speaks of transcending tradition and nationality. Performed as part of Resolution!, a six-week festival of new European dance at London's The Place, this work was outstanding.
108 debuts presented over 36 nights, a modest 18-minute performance could
have sunk without trace. Yet Sangeeta and Kali, in their Creative Dance
avatars, were able to display the dignity of evolved forms in a striking
setting. The grace of Bharatnatyam and Odissi blended effortlessly, via
Shankaresque fusion, into the more sexually-charged styles of Flamenco,
Tango and informal social dance. Indeed, the eroticism of the work, highlighted
most obviously in the dancers' skimpy black and silver costumes, was a
strong theme. But this is to rush ahead.
Kalithasan Chandrasegaram studied Odissi and Bharatanatyam in his native Malaysia and in India, before heading to England where he took a Performing Arts BA at Middlesex University. While there, he worked with Kadam Dance in The Ruby Slippers and with Shobana Jeyasingh's company, on their Web tour. Creative Dance Limited was also formed during this period. Kali was appointed Artist in Residence at Kadam in 2002 and performed in Hyderabad, in 2003.
Having initially learned Bharatanatyam in Pondicherry, the Kolkata-born Sangeeta Ghosh went on to train in Indian Contemporary with Tanushree Shankar. She later gained an MA in Mass Communication from Chennai. Sangeeta has been based in London for several years, where she is a stalwart and dynamic missionary for the Uday Shankar inheritance.
Transdicionale opens with the fluid Odissi gestures of Kalithasan, in shaven-headed silhouette against a projected grid. Black trousers and a rippling guitar soundtrack create an immediate ambiguity - is this Odissi or is it Flamenco? His choreography is tied closely here to lighting design, spot-lit squares of white appearing at his behest.
Sangeeta enters to the sound of conch, in a knee-length skirt and strapless bikini top. Her style is Bharatanatyam here, but absence of costume and a new, erotic context give it a different authority.
The two dance independently of each other, in and then out of the squares. They circle each other in side lights, the tension building. Then a blessedly subtle techno beat kicks in, for the by now inevitable couple dance. There is an amusing Tango sequence, complete with bandoneon accompaniment, before the couple part again. Sangeeta quotes Radha, adorning herself for her beloved, while Kali pines on his knees for divine union. There are unexpected and refreshing elements of Gujarati garba and other folk forms, in a final celebratory section.
This was a considered narrative, drawing on a wealth of experience in Indian dance and positioning it in a contemporary, international setting.