I last saw Aditi Mangaldas and her company perform during the 2015 Alchemy Festival. She is truly one of the finest exponents of the contemporary Kathak dance scene – her work transcending the stage in its beauty, poetry and intelligence. The combination of technical perfection, insight and soul wrenching truth was breathtaking, the movement so powerfully articulate you forgot that there were no words or dialogue. It was truly spectacular dance, which dynamically conversed with wit, irony and piercing moments of truth. The piece was Timeless, and it was delicate and thrilling – have a look at it here.
Truth and integrity are a way of living for Aditi Mangaldas. She recently turned down a National Sangeet Natak Academy Award because a festival organised by the awarding body had made a dancer change publicity materials which included photographs of her without a dupatta. Mangaldas declined the award saying: “We need to be aware of such authoritarian decrees […] wearing a dupatta is not an essential hallmark of Kathak but a question of aesthetics […] we need to distinguish between what is extraneous and what is quintessential to the art form.”
Aditi Mangaldas sees Kathak (a classical form of North Indian dance) as a living form that is growing and transforming just like every living thing. Historically Kathak is a performance art that survived and thrived as an oral tradition. It then transitioned, adapted to and integrated the tastes of the Mughal courts in the 16th and 17th century. Ridicule and decline followed in the colonial British era, as dance became orientalised and dancers objectified as exotic entertainers. It wasn’t until India gained independence that it was rejuvenated, as Indians sought to rediscover their (ancient) roots and a sense of national identity through the arts.
Since then, as it always has, Kathak has continued to transform itself. Aditi Mangaldas has passionately protects the dance’s freedom to change and breathe and continue to exist as a free spirited art form: “Not every change will survive the onslaught of time. Only those that emerge from deep within that strengthen form and make it relevant to the times will remain. These will then be incorporated into the repertoire itself, this the cycle will continue“.
Her latest creation “Inter_rupted” epitomises this sentiment. It’s performed with her dance company, which includes seven dancers including Mangaldas, a group of musicians and lighting artist Fabiana Piccioli (winner of the Knight of illumination Award). Together they co-create a richly intricate and vigorous dance piece that explores fragility, disintegration and renewal of the human form. This dance piece is important for its beauty, grace and vigour but also for its truthful stance on the ever evolving human condition. A must see for dance enthusiasts, philosophers and the curious!
When: 20-22 October 2016, 7.45pm
Where: Barbican Centre, Silk Street London EC2Y 8DS
Tickets: £16 – £28 (+ booking fee)
More info: Barbican Centre
Sakeena Adamjee studied South Asian Culture and Ethnomusicology at SOAS and continues to weave the arts into every corner of her life. She has trained in flamenco dance in both London and Spain and currently uses the art form as her own life medicine. During the day she works as an Education Adviser for local government promoting inclusion for special needs children. She is also a life coach practitioner and believes in the power of the arts to enrich and transform our lives.
Posted by SA on Wednesday 5th October 2016.
Photos from the Barbican Centre.