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Seeta Patel: Something Then, Something Now Lilian Baylis Studio

Wild CardWild Card is a series of specially curated evenings from a new generation of dance makers, bringing fresh perspectives to the stage. For each Wild Card, an up-and-coming artist is given the opportunity to present work that excites them alongside their own“.

The Wild Card event that I was fortunate enough to attend was curated and Performed by Seeta Patel, a UK dance artist who has been championing the Indian classical dance style of Bharatanatyam for many years.

The piece performed by Seeta is an established and recognised piece, an extended performance, not often performed at length in the UK.

Whilst Seeta was performing her solo piece she was accompanied by an orchestra of Carnatic musicians. The performance was presented in its original form, Tamil, without translation. Thankfully all audience members were given a programme with selected translations included.

The piece is drawn from a popular theme in Bharatanatym works; it is a story of love in separation. The heroine (Seeta) begs her friend to bring god Krishna to her.

Saying this, the translation wasn’t really needed. The Bharatanatyam form is steeped in expression and characterisation. As an audience member with no prior exposure to this art form, I was mesmerised and hugely moved by the universal language of dance. The way Seeta moves around the stage is seemless, her expression oozes from every part of her being in a way that an audience can experience her emotions and desires through a minute hand gesture or a sideways glance.

The piece was hugely entertaining and evoked bundles of emotion from its audience, me included. To me Seeta’s presentation was a blurring between performance and worship – interlocked when exploring themes such as god and man, duality and union, love and devotion.

There were moments when I felt I was more of a voyeur than a paying spectator.

Ordinarily I find it difficult to watch solo pieces of dance that last longer than 30 minutes, however, i can assure you that this piece, although longer than hour, was so captivating I was not distracted and was fully drawn in to the performance. I did not glance at my watch once or feel my mind wonder. Seeta’s performance style is beautiful and evocative at all times.

After a short interval the audience is invited back in to the auditorium to explore the intimacy of poetry in Abinaya. The second part of the event is performed by Pushkala Gopal, a teacher and performer of Carnatic music, together with a small orchestra that is conducted by Mavin Khoo. Mavin is an Artistic Director who has performed in India, USA and Britain. He is a master of Balletic works as well as Bharatanatyam.

This second part of the evening’s proceedings was a presentation of traditional works, performed in original dialect. However unlike the first half, Pushkala allowed us to unpick and unfold the poetry and allowed us to interpret her choreography through her explanations and gestures.

All in all this presentation was hugely satisfying. I felt fully immersed in the world of Bharatanatym and when I left Sadlers Wells I spent quite some time looking up the individual performers, the stories of the genre and am keen to continue my exploration of this art form.

It was a perfectly different Friday evening and one that I would recommend to anyone with a curious mind and a love of expressionist dance.

5 Star Rating

Review by Faye Stockley

Wild Card Seeta Patel: Something Then, Something Now Lilian Baylis Studio

UK Premiere
Thursday 25 & Friday 26 September 2014


  • Faye Stockley

    Faye read Theatre & Performance at The University of Warwick; she went on to work as a stage manager in London and Edinburgh. She had a year's stint on-board the MV Island Escape as a Social Host and Compere and now works full time as a Recruitment Manager for the broadcast, entertainment and media sectors.

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