Kathak exponent Aditi Mangaldas will be the lone face of classical Indian arts at the Edinburgh International Festival with a 105-minute combination of traditional Kathak and contemporary dance.
Mangaldas will lead a troupe of nine dancers from her Drishtikone Repertory, to perform "Uncharted Seas" and a contemporary composition, "Timeless", Aug 18 - Aug 19 at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. The festival, which opened August 9, will conclude Sept 2.
Last year, India was represented at the festival by Nrityagram, the gurukul-style centre for classical Indian dance.
"'Uncharted Seas' is about the search of identity - basically who we are through the heart of classical Kathak. The dancers weave in and out of shadows with rhythm. The essence of the choreography is the quest for the intangible, for god, truth, beauty, love and freedom," Mangaldas told IANS at her residence-cum-studio at Sainik Farms before leaving for Edinburgh.
"Timeless", a contemporary Kathak choreography in combination with several ethnic dances, is a set of questions that people often ask themselves about the cycle of time; "whether we can hold past time, future time in time present", Mangaldas said.
The experimental music for the works have been composed by Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan. And a selection of poetry from the compositions of Josh Malihabadi, Jalauddin Rumi and Kabir will form the vocal context for the "Uncharted Seas".
The acts have a cross-over colour despite their Indian essence.
The lighting for "Timeless" has been designed by an Italian Fabiana Piccioli and by Dutch designer Sanders Loonen for "Uncharted Seas". The costumes for "Timeless" have been designed by a Japanese, Kimie Nakano, the dancer said.
"All the three have worked with (London-based) Akram Khan, who is described as one of the top choreographers in the world today. Khan has his roots in classical Kathak," Mangaldas said. "It has been wonderful to do this exchange," the danseuse added.
"I am really keen to see contemporary works from India because there is a huge space out there for all genres of contemporary dances from various roots." Mangaldas said.
The dancer defines Indian contemporary dance as an "individual set of movements developed by a dancer". It incorporates from various indigenous genres and yet has an idiom of its own.
"Europe is opening up to Indian dances. The UK has amazing Kathak dancers. Various Indian gurus have visited the country and created their followings. I have been there thrice to conduct Kathak workshops," she said.
Mangaldas with her troupe was shortlisted two years ago - together with Nrityagram (set up in the outskirts of Bangalore by Gerard D' Cunha) - when the artistic director of Edinburg International Festival Jonathan Mills came to India to check out Indian dance repertoires to participate in the festival.
India has earlier been represented at the Edinburgh International by dancers like Birju Maharaj, Raja Reddy and Malavika Sarukkai.