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Review: Saju Hari Dance hits the spot with double bill at Rich Mix, The Insanity In Dancing


South Indian choreographer Saju Hari presents an exciting double bill of contemporary dance. Fly From, danced by charismatic Leicester-born dancer Subhash Viman, and Breaking Points, which sees four athletic dancers take on Hari's martial arts training, explore resistance and segregation.


In Fly From, Subhash Viman exudes angst and frustration. He twists his body to the tapping of a drum struck by dripping water. The movement engulfs his whole body, leading him through a section of animal-like contortions into a phrase of windmilling arms and unfurling wrists. It's clear that Viman's gorgeous gestural hands and focused performance are aided by his background in South Asian dance forms. However, Fly From comes to a quick close as Viman undresses in darkness, joined by five silhouette figures projected behind him.


Breaking Points provided some much needed energy and humour after Hari's exploration of angst and resistance. Four dancers take to the stage, disco dancing, building wooden shelves and competing in humorous 'dance-offs'. Hari injects South Asian flavours into the work using intricate hand gestures and fast paced footwork. An amusing duet between two male dancers, set to a vaguely Middle Eastern score, sees the men copying each other and trying to 'out-do' one another. The men whip through the space with whirling arms and percussive shifts of weight. In particular Belgian born Filipino & Italian dancer, Jason Mabana is an incredibly exciting performer- definitely another talent to watch.


While Breaking Points hits the spot with its athletic dancers and amusing subplots, Fly From left us wanting more. Who are the five silhouette figures? And what do they mean to the work?


At a time when contemporary dance is only just beginning to be more widely available to people from all walks of life, it is refreshing to see South Asian dance and dancers on London's dance platforms. But despite how well the troupe attacked Hari's choreography and dance style, I wonder whether more South Asian dancers could be seen in other productions like Hari's.


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