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REVIEW: Gods & Mortals at Sunderland Minster

Presented by Sunderland Stages in association with GemArts and Kadam/Pulse
Gods & Mortals 
Sunderland Minster 
Friday 12th May 2017

Gods And Mortals from the Odissi Ensemble features 4 dancers and 4 musicians showcasing the classical dance born in the temples of eastern India. The collection of dance routines delves into the relationship between the human and the devine. It is brought to the North East through the collaboration of GemArts and Sunderland Stages.

Odissi Ensemble - Photo: Simon Richarson
Sunderland Stages is a series that brings events to a variety of different spaces. Tonight we are in the magnificent surroundings of Sunderland Minster - a venue that’s not a stranger to hosting cultural events. Our last visit was to see Miracle!, an opera about being a football fan.  We witnessed how flexible the space can be: seating is on three sides of a large dancing area.

The show is also brought to the region by GemArts, the Gateshead based organisation who bring culturally diverse arts to the region. Spirits were high in the GemArts camp as last year’s Masala Festival had won an award in the Journal Culture awards the previous night.

Odissi is a dance style that tells a story through very graceful movements. The four dancers show creative control and poise as they express their way through each routine. Supporting the show are 4 wonderful musicians including Ranjana Ghatak on volcals; Parvati Rajamani on spoken rhythms. Gurdain Rayatt was a show in himself as he provided the rhythms on his percussion instruments. Adding a blues twist to the sound was May Robertson on violin.

Two dancers got a solo spot which featured their individual style. During Srita Kamala Elena Catalano was both graceful and expressive in piece which is in praise of Lord Vishnu and his incarnations.  Kali Chandrasegaram had an air of power and control during Bhagavati Ashtaka. He reflected the balance between the feminine and masculine in a highly engaging routine.

Kate Ryan and Maryam Shakiba worked well together in Hari-lha which really worked well in the Minster and the lighting design helped make the piece feel very special. The shadows formed on the wall as they danced.

The Odissi Ensemble created a spiritual evening that felt divine and it worked well in this place of worship. The colourful display juxtaposed the contrast of Minster and a series about gods & mortals. The live performance of the music added an extra element to the show, supplemented by the bracelets and anklets of the dancers jangling as they performed their work, adding to the percussion.  Whilst working in unison and solo, the graceful display was a pleasure to watch and is a wonderful addition to the region’s culture.

Review by Stephen Oliver.

The show next appears on Tuesday 25th July 2017as part of the Indika Festival at the Capstone Theatre in Liverpool - see   

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