Preeti's ‘Sweet Sorrow' was stylistically organic with memories of the traditional dance form appearing in stray movements.

Moving away from her extensive training in Bharatanatyam under the Dhananjayans, Preeti Athreya has over the past decade established herself as a contemporary dancer-choreographer.

A post-graduate in Dance Studies (Laban Centre, London) and working with contemporary dancer-choreographer Padmini Chettur have both impacted her creative journey. Her ‘Sweet Sorrow' solo, co-produced by Prakriti Foundation, Chennai, premiered last year at ‘The Park's New Festival.' was presented again for ‘DanSe Dialogues' recently.

‘Sweet Sorrow' was stylistically organic with memories of the traditional dance form appearing in stray movements, in the use of gestures or in the Jantai varisai variation and the ‘Payyada' song in the sound track. While the dancer, to her credit, did not try to intellectualise such a personal emotion as sorrow, a sense of indulgence crept in towards the end and loosened the threads of an otherwise tightly woven presentation.

Preeti is essentially a stark and thinking dancer and this came to the fore in the manner in which she established the narrative of the last moments of a spouse – as a voice-over in French, English and Tamil – with minimal fuss.

Starting with a series of technical teasers such as projecting an image of the dancer on a screen at the backdrop, as if she had moved across the stage in seconds, and projecting delayed images of the dancer in shadow, the dancer lost no time in establishing the context.

Lengthy sequence

The longing for ‘The Man I love' by jazz musician Sarah Vaughn and the engagement with the chair, both the filmed and the live parts, stayed within her inner core, her numbness coming through quietly.

It was the writhing sequence on the floor that was her undoing. It went on for too long and it did not make sense to show physical pain after having shown it through the ‘chair sequences.'

There was then a different side to love and loss and Preeti brought in a woman who had been betrayed by her lover.

‘An Ode to Unrequited Love' was a clever rendering, recited in different speeds, along with expansive gestures... but how did a woman lost turn into a woman scorned? Preeti suddenly left you in the lurch.