Diary clashes meant I was unable to get to Sadler’s Wells last spring to see Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, played by the BSO, performed by South Indian Bharatanatyam group, Seeta Patel Dance, and conducted by Kirill Karabits. It was great news, then, to find out that this work was going to be presented at Lighthouse Poole as part of the BSO’s 23/24 season and Seeta Patel’s autumn tour.
And it really was worth the wait. Stravinsky’s elemental, violently rhythmic score seemed perfectly interpreted, or perhaps illuminated, by this spectacular style of dance movement – sharp and purposeful in look, but also totally absorbing in narrative power.
The marriage of Indian dance and Western music was astonishingly harmonious, no doubt cemented by Mr Karabits and Ms Patel’s close cooperation on this venture. I felt there was a real sense of partnership between the dancers and instrumentalists, encouraged by the way that the work had been choreographed for the Concert Hall platform, which was specially extended. Dancers and players were also both visible on stage, making for a strong sense of connection and plenty to marvel at.
The performance offered something unique, something excitingly different, dramatically lit, sumptuously costumed, and providing a valuable experience shared between players, dancers and the audience. It certainly reinforced the BSO’s reputation for innovative and forward-looking projects.
The first half of the evening was similarly imaginative, opening with Chary Nurymov’s Suite for the ballet The Fate of Sukhovey. I found this tuneful and uplifting, offering an intriguing mix of western influences and Turkmen folk sounds, straight out of Mr Karabits’s Voices from the East strand. The original scenario of the ballet concerning the greening of the desert during the 1960s need not worry the listener too much, but the advance from uncertainly to success is very happily caught.
Following this, the orchestra played a work which it premiered with Sir Dan Godfrey in 1901 – The Sleeping Beauty Suite by Tchaikovsky – with a few extra numbers from the ballet added by Mr Karabits. This music is the embodiment of western classical ballet and was given a dashing, full-blooded performance here, the BSO revelling in the luscious themes. While I could imagine dancers performing, such was the power of the playing that the music stood wonderfully on its own.
The evening lived up to all expectations. There will no doubt be many splendid evenings we shall enjoy with the BSO this season, but this event, in its invention, originality and power was surely one to last in the memory for years to come.
Seeta’s Rite will be performed again at The Anvil, Basingstoke on 23 November.