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Suresh Desai’s Review

The Voice of Expression

Times of India, January 5th, 2010

Performance Date: December 29th, 2009 at Darpana, Ahmedabad.

Taste and clarity of expression within parameters of high aesthetic standards set Dakshina from Washington DC apart as a dance company exploring communication through choreographed movement, powerfully highlighted with dominantly expressive silence and complementing sparse creative music. Its gifted young director Daniel anchors talents of varying cultural origin and, himself a Bharatanatyam dancer, absorbs influences in his work.

One rarely comes across a pleasing blend of movements – drawn from Indian classical and contemporary dance – seen in the invocatory item “Bell Song”, elegantly performed by radiant dancers in white with red relief, at the 34th Vikram Sarabhai International Arts Festival. Stacey and Stephanie’s “Lullaby”, choreographed on Puccini’s aria ‘O my babbino caro’ in Italian, is touching in its simplicity and affirms the power of love.

In the lyrical gem “Since You’ve Asked”, Melissa and Jamal delicately recalling ‘all the songs’ and how ‘time turned to flowers’, portray the resolve of a young couple to hold on together even in adversity. “Devaki” is fresh with an original interpretation through individual expression (Stacey) and group choreography. Devaki laments the loss of her children, of bestowing love on child Krishna and remaining in oblivion. It is against this backdrop that, on the famous Jayadev shloka ‘Kuru Yadunandana’, in which Radha invites Krishna to do a leaf design on her bosom with deer musk that Krishna’s ‘shringara leela’ leading to ecstasy, is portrayed.

Devotion, love, togetherness, ‘shringara’ and sorrow lead to pain through atrocity in the Holocaust or War in the piece de resistance on the second day at InterART in Dakshina’s eight-segment ‘Dreams’, originally choreographed by Anna Sokolow, Israel-born American, a pioneer of modern dance, who was outraged at the inhuman treatment of humans by humans and had their dignity at heart.

Nightmarish images of anguished faces – of a woman completely insecure without exit, a couple clinging to each other and memories, a man trying to flee and getting caught, pretty faces entrapped and played with, a child’s soothing hand on the insecure woman’s head, a man losing hope and collapsing, a couple unwilling to separate and finally the end of them all through suffocation in the cell. Projected without words, to expressive music and creative light designs the images numb, haunt and make you think.
—-Suresh D Desai