Recital The UK’s dance companies showcase works of legends, talent and novel ideas through ‘Impulse.’ Nita Vidyarthi

The British Council brings to India several productions of contemporary dance of the United Kingdom seen in the major cities of the country, entitled ‘Impulse’. Built around five key tours by renowned UK dance companies over almost six months, ‘Impulse’ is a season of the best contemporary work by established legends with the most exciting up-and-coming fresh talents.

The first in the series was Akram Khan dance company’s tour with breathtaking performance by Khan that left every city spellbound with his Kathak recital and the landmark contemporary work, ‘Gnosis.’

The next to enthral audiences on its first ever tour of India was Scotland’s national contemporary dance company, Scottish Dance Theatre, with three acclaimed choreographies at Kalamandir, Kolkata. Their performances have been described as risk-taking, collaborative, nurturing, exciting and in addition, the evening proved to be heart-achingly beautiful.

Their show began with ‘Drift,’ choreographed by James Wilton, where two dancers embraced symbolic movements to express the unruly feelings of love lost and love gained, coming close only to separate and the realisation that even after the ‘drift’ they may be together.

Angularity of upper torso and stretched but fluid hand movements and patterns with some display of contact improvisation that revealed loneliness and closeness passionately.

In ‘Dog,’ choreographed by Hofesh Shechter, the dancers swayed intensely between celebration, uncertainty and loss in love.

A philosophical work, ‘Luxuria,’ with Liv Lorent’s award-winning choreography, displayed contentment in love with sensual movements immersed in the romanticism and lyricism of the music. The slow, graceful and flowing glides of the dancers showed their wonderful body control and competence along with symptomatic stances. The breaking down of the dancers one by one in rhythmic isolation following the music, was visually absorbing and filled with emotion.

Rising new sensation

Aakash Odedra’s spell at the G.D. Birla Sabhagar, Kolkata, the third dance performance, ‘Rising,’ in the series is undoubtedly a long-lived one. Dubbed as the rising new sensation in South Asian Dance, Aakash is one of the most exciting young contemporary dancers and choreographers in the UK. Initially a trained Kathak and Bharatanatyam dancer and a student of Akram Khan, Aakash’s opening Kathak performance was choreographed by him. It showed his command over the dance form especially rhythm, distinguishing him as a dancer of high calibre, who thought independently.

The evening saw Aakash perform solo works by three legendary choreographers with a diverse mix of ideas and movement styles channelled through his execution with variable energy.

‘In the Shadow of Man,’ by Akram Khan, began with an almost dark stage and a gradual warm yellow light landing on the back and chest of Aakash. With shoulder moves supported by sound and Michael Hull’s light design, the dancer travelled into a slow walk, fell and slid on his knees with the body moving from curled, rolled shape into a creeping and crawling motion on the floor that created an animal imagery.

‘Cut,’ choreographed by Russell Maliphant with Andy Cowton’s light design, had an interesting marriage with Aakash’s vocabulary, flow and form and the dynamics of his movement with interception by light. The dancer articulated through a corridor, which reduced the performance area in which the dancer moved defined by bright, parallel and horizontal strips of light. Geometry played a major role in the choreography of this novel piece.

Forward moving and energetic turns that “cut”, through the beams of light, from one end of the stage to another relied on exquisite choreography, a continuous crackling sound and a fantastic light design tailored for the dancer’s body and exhilarating execution.

The final item, ‘Constellation,’ was a visual delight. Choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, the dancer in white, executed floor rolls, pirouettes amidst numerous hanging bulbs strung about the dark stage, and moved smoothly, skilfully with high energy accompanied by delicate strokes of the piano.

He finally settled with one while others started to flash. Olga Wojciechowska’s dazzling light design, Larbi’s marvellous choreography and Aakash’s supreme execution made this piece unforgettable. What is praiseworthy is the versatility and ability of the dancer to comprehend and execute spontaneously each piece of different mode and style. A beautiful, elegant presentation that was a joy to watch.