Monday 27 February 2023

Stravinsky and Bharatanatyam: Seeta Patel Dance Company's new version of The Rite of Spring using classical South Indian dance

Seeta Patel Dance - The Rite of Spring
Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was written for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes for choreographer Nijinsky. After the chaotic premiere, Stravinsky was dismissive of the choreography partly as a result of the choreographer and dancers' reliance on counting which bore no resemblance to Stravinsky's conception of his rhythms in the piece. As it was, after the initial run, when Diaghilev came to revive the ballet a few years later, Nijinsky was suffering from a breakdown in his mental health and no-one else could remember the ballet, so Massine rechoreographed it. Since then, there have been countless different versions as each choreographer seeks to get to grips with the primal energy of Stravinsky's score, and of course, each comes up with something different.

Now, the Seeta Patel Dance Company is presenting the London premiere of a Bharatanatyam interpretation of Stravinsky's ballet on 13 and 14 March 2023. Bharatanatyam is the classical South Indian dance, normally seen in solo presentations but here the whole ensemble will be dancing. The company will be accompanied by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

The company uses a male dancer as The Chosen One – elevating him to a deity to whom all sacrifice themselves. Whilst it is traditional for The Chosen One to be a woman, Kenneth MacMillan allowed for either sex in the role. By associating Stravinsky’s work and Bharatanatyam dance, Patel seeks to bridge the gap between classical Indian and Western culture through the mediums of dance and music.

London-born choreographer and dancer Seeta Patel trained in both Bharatanatyam and contemporary dance, and she has performed with companies such as DV8 Physical Theatre, and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company. The evening will begin with Seeta Patel in a solo performance accompanied by South Indian musicians.

Full details from the Sadler's Wells website.

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