Seeta Patel’s ‘Something Then Something Now’ is a narrative of love and emotion, presented in the classical Bharatnatyam style.
Based on the age old lore of Krishna and his beloved the first half is a dazzling solo piece. Patel’s physical language lucidly personifies the inner feelings of desire, love, longing and devotion of the nayika (the heroine). In her sensuous postures in the course of the dance piece Patel resembles the sculptures in the Chola temples. She times the piece wonderfully between dance movements and abhinaya (facial expressions), the latter being more prominent of the two. Patel’s expressive eyes precisely reveal the rasa (emotional theme) that she is performing. It varies from fluttering eyelashes displaying the nayika’s coyness, to curved eyebrows showing her restlessness and from a subdued smile to a flirtatious one intended for her lover. Abhinaya also extends to her sitting down as if lost in thought. She imagines him while looking at a peacock feather, or hears his flute in her mind and looks around hopeful to catch a glimpse of Krishna. A myriad of emotions convey her love and devotion. It is an authentic piece of Bharatnatyam danced with exquisite clarity and divine spirituality.
The second half of the evening orbits around the similar theme of love, and its associating emotions presented by accomplished Carnatic vocalist, Pushkala Gopal and an accompanying orchestra. Gopal plays her ‘tanpura’ (string instrument) and sings at the same time as expressing the words through abhinaya. Her deep voice is her asset which paired with her effortless and expressive story telling is captivating. Five exquisite extracts taken from old South Indian literature written mostly by male poets about women, unfold this half of the show. The evening draws to a close with the soul stirring Indian chant to the divine force. ‘Om Sarva Mangala Mangalye’
It’s a beautifully crafted presentation, at the heart of which is a thoughtful interpretation of an ancient Indian tradition.