Silent Space is an interpretive Indian dance show, with strong roots in southern Indian classical style, which intertwines with modern, contemporary and edgy themes. Founded in 2003 by Priya Shrikuma, Dance Ihayami, meaning ‘I am here’, introduced to the audience the extensive world of Indian movement.
The show began with a performance by both local dancers of an older generation and some younger dancers from Fusion. The younger dancers were strong throughout though it could be argued that the older women’s apparent light-hearted approach made it harder for the audience to take them seriously. That said if this was the intention of the piece then it was managed well; the diverse group of ages and backgrounds was affable and demonstrated the kind nature of the company’s outreach. It was an absorbing experience.
The show was strongly connected with cultural Indian dance roots, in particular of the Bharatanatyam style. The simplicity and beauty of the dancers was truly enrapturing. The main routine, predominantly performed by five dancers in the same blue and green saris, worked in a natural harmony. The dancers complimented each other and creating pleasant shapes on the dance floor.
The show worked very well with different uses of sound and music, mixing between classical Indian, percussive music and even a dance piece which was performed to ‘The String Quartet, No. 8 in c Minor, Opus 110 (Allegretto), Dmitri Shostakovich played by Edinburgh Quartet.
The fusion of the Indian dance with the classical String Quartet was transcendent and captivating – together they encapsulated Shrikumar’s intentions to ‘blend different styles in order to challenge completely traditional Indian dance.’
In addition to this, dancers used their voices to intertwine with their dance, chanting words and phrases. This was highly effective therefore it would have been good if they had given indication, whether in the introduction or in the programme, what the words meant. In this way the audience could have engaged even more with the action on stage.
The props and costumes of the dancers were a winning element. The Indian dress was sumptuous and beautiful, as was the exquisite make-up and jewellery. This most certainly elevated the performance to new heights, their outfits both adding to movement and overall aesthetic pleasure.
‘Silent Space’ was an hour-long production split up into seven stages, each embarking on a new theme or style of dance. Although the different themes proved hard to distinguish at times, the evident enjoyment of the performers themselves gave the audience that same satisfaction. The show was a subtle and spectacular introduction to authentic Indian style, perfect for those who are unfamiliar with it: a very gentle and fun performance.