Timeless & Uncharted Seas @ Royal Lyceum Theatre
Although Aditi Mangalas' choreography and company are based on the ancient Indian form of Kathak, her double bill at the EIF is determinedly a contemporary work. "If Kathak is the seed, and you water it with contemporary sensibilities," she says, "then the plant that grows has a contemporary feel, although the roots are Kathak."
Mangalas is conscious that Kathak, and its heritage as both a Hindu temple dance and an entertainment at the Mughul courts, make it a rare example of a dance that has Hindu and Muslim connections: yet she rejects the notion that she makes religious work. "I make a distinction between religious and spiritual," she notes. "I have no interest in the religious." Instead, Timeless and Uncharted Seas ponder perennial questions, in a way that does not need a specific understanding of either the origins of Kathak or the religions of India.
"We are talking about issues that are human emotions, not geographically confined," Mangalas insists. "Uncharted Seas talks about a search for a higher energy, while Timeless is a whole set of questions about 'what is time': there are no answers." Since Kathak dance encourages use of abstractions, Mangalas has found, across the world, that audiences have very individual responses.
"The different interpretations is what one is looking for, but I don't think they are separated by countries," she concludes. "I don't like to put a full stop in my work: I would feel energised if the audience would transform it in their minds according to their life experiences." [Gareth K Vile]