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South-Asian American Dance The Apothecary at the Trading Post
Remaining Performances Friday, July 24th at 7:45 pm and Sunday, July 26th at 11:30 am
They say: “Presenting in its signature classical and contemporary style with original musical scores, TMDC’s dancing is precise, athletic and theatrical. The themes run the gamut of emotions. The message may be personal or political but it’s always relevant to the times.”
Caroline’s take: Who knew presidential politics could be interpreted through traditional Indian dances? I certainly didn’t before seeing this production of the Tehreema Mitha Dance Company, but the combination of traditional choreography with contemporary subject matter landed with surprising resonance.
The evening consists of four dances, two traditional solos and two contemporary ensemble pieces. In each case, a brief introduction told the audience what was going on, but these were hardly necessary, since all the dancers clearly embodied their respective characters. The first classical solo, performed and choreographed by Praneetha Akula, is about a woman exhausted by a demanding job: With rows of bells around her ankles, her motions complemented the music so well that the story became unimportant. The same can be said for the other solo by the company’s founder, Tehreema Mitha, whose dancing overpowered the music and story perfectly.
But a dance show is supposed to be about dancing, not about daily news events, which is where this show gets a little more complicated. The two contemporary pieces are well-executed, but the accompanying stories were just a little awkward. “Cherry Blossoms in D.C.,” a reflection on the beauty of the Tidal Basin in April in contrast with the sinister forces of politics in this city became complicated and messy. The highlights were Akula and Meredith Hope, dressed in pink and purple to represent the blossoms; but when two other dancers enter, dressed as Secret Service agents, and begin to frisk audience members, the level of believability plummets. Add to that a presidential character who looks like Hillary Clinton and speaks like Sarah Palin, and suddenly, the performance becomes pure agenda. The second contemporary piece, a solo by Mitha about a bi-polar homeless person, is less distracted by her message, her spastic motions representing the mania that run through this woman’s body. You understand her frustration when passersby run away…but when she keeps chanting “I used to work at Lehman Brothers,” current events supersede the motions and the audience is left pondering economics, not dance.
See it if: You want a message to correspond to each dance or want to see a cat walked on a leash.
Skip it if: You don’t want to see a Secret Service ballet.