Sari: heartfelt choreography and colourful production
- Lucy Ribchester
- 29 September 2017
Daksha Sheth's dance tale about the creation of a sari is simple and beautiful
The concept behind Daksha Sheth's Sari, playing as part of the India-UK Year of Culture celebrations, is beautiful. Each stage in the life of a sari is portrayed through a small section of dance, digital projection and stage invention. It brings these exquisite garments from their literal roots as plant fibres through to the jewelled swathes of finished fabric that allow the wearer any number of ways to arrange them, and invites a respect for the time and intricacy taken in the process of their creation.
Each section is titled with a part of this process, starting with 'Invocation', the growing of the cotton plants, borne out by an aerialist, brightly lit as she twists and stretches like slow awakening branches, flanked by two others in shadow. 'Carding' sees the separating of the cotton, represented by battering out lengths of white fabric, and one of the most arresting sections, 'The Common Thread' pits two dancers on bungees of splintered ropes in a cavorting battle, while in the background the rest of the cast tussle with giant cats cradles.
It's a vibrant, visual feast, radiant with colour and brought alive by an electric palette of lighting. At times the backcloth glows like blue crystal, at others the stage is drenched in blurs of powdered Holi-style colours.
Sometimes the dance elements of the piece feel a little slight, with short, simple motifs repeated instead of developed. But the warmth of the company – which includes choreographer Sheth, her son, daughter and husband – glows. With its blending of storytelling, teaching and mixed Indian disciplines, including some awesome body percussion from Sheth's son, Sari feels like a piece created straight from the heart for audiences of any age, and from anywhere.