Gifted dancers in depressing piece

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Although the subject was relevant and the performance commendable, Zameen was unfortunately dismal, writes DEEPA GOPINATH
This year’s Parramasala featured Zameen by two dancers from the Attakalari Centre for Movement Arts, a dance and multimedia presentation. The work was intended to explore the plight of remote communities in India that are fighting to preserve their way of life in a country driven by progress.
Zameen began with the two dancers binding each other’s hands together, presumably depicting the frustration that is felt by members of these remote communities. Video clips of the lives of some of these people were interspersed into segments of dance, designed to bring to light issues such as a shortage of essential resources.
While the dancers were obviously talented, with commendable technique, the performance did not draw me in as I had hoped it would. The exploration of this issue was admirable, and it is one that I think should be further exposed.  However, I felt that instead of the engaging intensity that was required, there was a depressive nature to the piece and the result was that I left without the joyous feeling that I normally experience following a dance-based performance, regardless of the subject.
While some of the video clips were of value, others had a strangely spooky quality reminiscent of a Japanese horror film, which I feel did not enhance the depiction of this topic.  The dance segment towards the end of the piece saw a little more dynamic movement compared to the rest of the performance, and it was then that the audience could truly appreciate the finesse of these dancers. Their elegant and controlled movements were able to shine during this last segment, and there was a glimpse of the magnetism that I would expect from a performance by a professional dance company.
The haunting musical score by Leah Barclay was probably the highlight of the piece and its undulating nature was an appropriate representation of the topic at hand. There is no doubt that Zameen was a collaboration of some very talented individuals; however, the result of the show for me, somewhat missed its mark.

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