Tehreema Mitha Dance Company combined classic South Asian dance with contemporary concepts innovating both form and the notion of borders during their 3 routines presented at the Harman Center.
The first piece, according to the voiceover, was strictly classic. Three women danced in harmony to explode as an element, fire. They were backed by traditional strings and their costumes adorned with mini conches providing an aural accessory to their bright and warm costumes. The trio’s angularity and height as they ran through the audience evoked something of the excitement of fire, rather than its pathos. Choosing optimism became an intense and welcomed choice, joyfully overturning the audience’s own presumptions.
The second solo piece choreographed and performed by lead dancer Tehreema Mitha explored what it meant to run past empty and into death’s arms. A simple chair and cloth directly conveyed the sorrow of loss, and chair and tables shifted during the dance to a vanity where Mitha prepared for death. After this, her leaps cloaked themselves in abject longing made manifest by the large braided cord that the woman uncoiled and threw to the sky at the dance’s end.
The final ensemble piece explored one’s own karma in a dizzyingly paced and claustrophobic world. The floor work moved through the everyday routines of brushing one’s teeth and reading the paper with a grace that most can only dream of. Underscored by inspirational global pop with a message of kindness that usually evokes gagging, in this instance rang both true and sweet. The piece ended on a disquieting note: the women closing in around a particular article in The Guardian. Their reactions were horrified, but more disturbingly could have been triggered by any major event- any number of wars, suicide bombings, or genocides. It makes the choice of kindness more than quaint folkiness, but necessary for survival, and the nuance of this decision became completely embodied in these three women.
Classically and appealing provocative works that I would see again.
Running time: a gorgeous 45 minutes.
South Asian American Dance has closed.