Dance review: Man vs wild as two unlikely Indian art forms collide

Prakriti Vikriti – Nature revisited

Singapore Indian Society of Fine Arts (Sifas) | Esplanade Theater, Saturday (March 27)

From the association of improbable dance forms to the contrast of colors and costumes, Prakriti Vikriti has brought duality to the fore.

First produced in 2018, the performance, which explores nature as both an invigorating and destructive force, returns to the stage this year as part of the Sifas Festival of Arts.

Instead of downplaying the polarity of the two Indian classical dance forms bharatanatyam and kathak, the performance sought to emphasize their differences and to marry the two through a converging story.

In the first two segments of the dance, it became clear that Sifas faculty took over and dusted off the traditional curriculum, infusing it with pockets of interpretive movement that instantly grabbed the audience’s attention.

The contrast was amplified by the use of bright green, yellow and red hues for the bharatanatyam costumes and cool tones of white and blue, as well as dull gold, for the kathak dancers.

Both teams of lead dancers made brilliant use of the use of space, pairing intricate positioning with fluid footwork that integrated seamlessly.

The music, an eclectic mix of poetry from ancient Tamil and Sanskrit literature combined with lyrics in Hindi and Telugu, completed the transitions between the two dance forms.

The crisp and crisp variations of mudras (hand gestures) by the bharatanatyam dancers depicted the hustle and bustle of summer and spring, bringing to life the rippling movement of a serpent or the flight of a bird.

The flowing flourishes and pirouettes of the kathak dancers expertly portrayed the cold winter months or a sudden monsoon downpour.

Two memorable sections of the choreography were the whip-shaped shuddha nrittam (pure movement) segment by the bharatanatyam dancers and the rapid footwork by the kathak dancers, led by Guru Mulla Afsar Khan, to recreate the sound of raindrops in theater.

While there is room for the supporting dancers to improve in technique and musicality, their emotional delivery has served them well.

The dancers communicated a reverence for nature through their work, whether it was the joy of first love in spring, the thirst and suffering brought on by a drought, or the moral dilemma of the hunt.

This performance particularly hit the house amid a pandemic believed to have been caused by the conflict between humans and nature.