On Sunday it was full of curiosity that we headed once again to Sophia Garden’s Open Air Festival, this time to see something we hadn’t experienced before – a classical Indian Dance performance.
India Dance Wales put on two shows and we went to see the evening performance of Shakuntala. I’ll admit I had no idea what to expect, but I’m always open to new experiences and I was pleasantly surprised by this one!
Shakuntala is a Hindi mythological character and this performance told of the romantic story behind her marriage to the King Dushyanta. The tale starts with her birth and how she is found in the forest as a baby, surrounded and protected by birds. She grows up to be a lover of nature and animals and the King Dushyanta is captivated by her. They marry but he is forced to return to his kingdom and while he is gone a curse is placed upon the couple which means that Dushyanta forgets all about Shakuntala and their union.
In the meantime Shakuntala discovers she is pregnant and mourns the absence of her husband. Unable to stay where she is, she travels to the palace to be with him, only to discover that he does not remember her. Embarrassed and forlorn she returns to the forest on her own where she raises her son. Some years later, King Dushyanta is brought a ring which he gave Shakuntala when he left her after their marriage. The curse is broken and he remembers everything and travels the country to find her. He finds her and their son and the story ends happily there.
The story was told through a mixture of narrative and dance. The dancing was exquisite. I’ve never really seen any classical Indian dancing before and the rhythm and synchronicity of it, combined with the music was mesmerising. I loved how they danced barefoot and bells on their feet sang a song as they moved elegantly on stage. Delicate hand movements, dance moves and facial expressions of the beautiful dancers really helped to convey the story.
I found the first half a little slow, but after the interval the story seemed to flow faster and I was intrigued to find out what happened in the story. It was definitely a different experience for me and I’m really glad I went to see it.
Disclosure – we were gifted tickets to the performance for the purpose of this review. All opinions are honest and my own.