The ballet program of the Festival will be continued by the WITHIN performance of the Indian Ballet Company of Aditi Mangaldas on the stage of the Baltic House Theater-Festival. Aditi Mangaldas Company is high-grade artists working in the style of the Indian classical Kathak dance. The Kathak dance form originated in North India. Its first performers were temple narrators who accompanied the retelling of myths with gestures and dances. In the Great Mughal era, having become a court dance, the Kathak was enriched with new elements, in particular, complex rhythms.
The WITHIN performance is a wonderful example of traditional and modern Indian Kathak dance, performed at a high professional level and in spectacular modern settings. Of particular note is the work with light creating a special atmosphere of the performance. The basis of the performance is speculations about time and its power of influence on a person. Does time make us turn “inside” ourselves to recognize our deepest, most complex emotions? Are we able to look into this contradictory space inside, where humanity and cruelty, masculinity and femininity, good and evil seem to swirl in a half embrace? Man in the flow of time, his whole life, is a balance and the choice we make that shape us.
The performers appear before the audience in their national outfits, long, shiny, with the ankle gungru bells being visible from underneath in the dance. One of the most recognizable instruments of Kathak performers can only be heard: at first it seems that the ringing appears by itself and is spread in the air. The bare feet of the dancers tap and step flatly and finely. The hands, graceful and expressive, turn out to be a paint connected with the soul. If we may say so, they are responsible for the psychology: they convey what state the dance is about, they bring out feelings.
A classical Indian dance that combines millennia-old philosophy and stunning virtuosity. The artistry of the soloist (Aditi Mangaldas) and her balance, dramatic gift and exceptional technique literally hypnotize the audience throughout the performance.
The Russian audience has once had the opportunity to get acquainted with Aditi Mangaldas’ company during her tour within the framework of the Chekhov Festival in Moscow in 2021, when the “Life” work was presented. Now the citizens of St. Petersburg will also have the opportunity to see the original group of 8 dancers and 4 musicians as part of “Diaghilev P.S.” Festival. What is important in the light of the historical bias of the Festival, Indian themes have a connection with the repertoire of Diaghilev’s company. From 1909 to 1912 the Russian Seasons presented ballets with oriental themes in European capitals: on May 13, 1912 the Seasons opened with the premiere of The Blue God ballet to music by Reinaldo Ana, choreography by Mikhail Fokin, settings and costumes by Lev Bakst, script by Jean Cocteau. The main character of the ballet performed by Vaslav Nijinsky is associated with the Hindu god Krishna. Bakst’s settings were based on the images of the sculptures from the Bayon Khmer temple complex at Angkor Thom of the 12th century. The basis of the choreography was the Siamese dances which Mikhail Fokin saw during the tour of the Siamese company in St. Petersburg.
“To understand yourself, you must create a mirror that accurately reflects what you are… It is only in the understanding what is, that the freedom from what is lies”, – J. Krishnamurti, Indian spiritual teacher.
Mass media about the performance:
The Kathak in Mangaldas version is a big autonomous world with its own laws…There is technique, a neutral thing. There is tradition, the territory of harmony, peaceful speculations, grace, virtuosity. And there is modernity – the reflection of new sensations in a dance.
Tata Boeva, dance critic and historian