Review: Indian music and dance mesmerises York Minster

25 Nov 2013 @ 9.24 pm
| News
Much more than dance: Rudra in York Minster. Photographs: Duncan Lomax /
Much more than dance: Rudra in York Minster. Photographs: Duncan Lomax / See below for a slideshow of more stunning pictures

Review: RUDRA – emotive flight
Venue: York Minster, November 23

I’m not really qualified to review dance. In fact, I’m not qualified at all – I leave the room in a bad mood when Strictly comes on, and if you’ve ever seen me dancing in a club, you’re mistaken (that’s how I walk to the bar).

But Rudra, staged in the imposing transept of York Minster, was much more than dance. Performed by Manasamitra, a Yorkshire-based arts organisation, it’s a fusion of dance, theatre and music, re-telling Indian mythology with a modern twist.

It interested me as a photographer, so I got an invite to the dress rehearsal, expecting to come away with interesting shots, but after being drawn into the show, which was truly mesmerising, I left with much more.

Dancers Nikki Bakolis, Lucy Haighton, and Jyoti Uniyal gave their all in the telling of the story, with every emotion etched onto their faces, but it was Alys North’s fiery performance that stood out.

To one side saxophonist Jesse Bannister and RR Prathap playing a Mridangam drum watched the performance closely, matching the intensity on stage with haunting and dramatic melodies and rhythms.

Singer and violinist Kartik Raghunathan was struggling with a bad cold yet still created a beautiful ethereal sound between off-mic sniffs and coughs.

Everyone else in the company seemed to be in awe of their magnificent surroundings, and it’s great to see something so different in the Minster – but he must have just been praying for someone to turn the heating up, poor soul.

The mastermind behind the music is Shri Sriram. Having previously worked with Nitin Sawhney, and had success with Badmarsh and Shri, not to mention his input to the wonderful Life Of Pi soundtrack, Shri is no stranger to a collaborative challenge.

His signature sound was evident in the music – a mix of traditional Indian instruments with contemporary beats and instrumentation and it ebbed and flowed throughout the performance, building to wonderful crescendos with infectious rhythms.

I can’t confess to understand the technicalities of the dance and performance, but Rudra had more passion, anger, beauty and pain than anything I’ve watched on the box for a long time, so I’ll be looking out for Manasamitra’s next production with a much more open mind to what modern dance is about.

Oh, got to go, Strictly is on…