Press

Press Coverage for solo classical work, Sep. – Oct. 2014

Ultimately the quality of the performances on offer – Patel dancing and Pushkala Gopal primarily as a vocalist – transcended the need for much discourse. Patel’s dancing should and can ‘speak’ for itself.
Donald Hutera, Pulse

Based on the age old lore of Krishna and his beloved the first half is a dazzling solo piece. Patel’s physical language lucidly personifies the inner feelings of desire, love, longing and devotion of the nayika (the heroine). In her sensuous postures in the course of the dance piece Patel resembles the sculptures in the Chola temples. She times the piece wonderfully between dance movements and abhinaya. It’s a beautifully crafted presentation, at the heart of which is a thoughtful interpretation of an ancient Indian tradition.
Protima Chatterjee, Abundant Art

The way Seeta moves around the stage is seemless, her expression oozes from every part of her being in a way that an audience can experience her emotions and desires through a minute hand gesture or a sideways glance.
The piece was hugely entertaining and evoked bundles of emotion from its audience. Seeta’s presentation was a blurring between performance and worship – interlocked when exploring themes such as god and man, duality and union, love and devotion.
Faye Stockley, LondonTheatre1.com, 5 Stars

In traditional appreciations of bharatanatyam, it is often said that successful performers express the bhava or mood of a piece such that the audience experiences the raga or taste of the character’s emotions; Patel certainly gave a virtuosic and flavourful rendition of the love in separation.
Patel’s performance is ably accompanied by a musical ensemble including the talented vocalist Y Yadavan, whose pure tones and velvety delivery make an ideal foil for the metrical cadences of the dance material.
It’s great that Patel had the courage to present such a boldly in-depth exploration of the artform, one that demonstrates that South Asian dance has both strong roots and a healthy future in Britain.
Lise Smith, DanceTabs

Patel sees Bharatanatyam as a classical form in the same way, perhaps, that Beethoven’s or Rossini’s music is part of the classical tradition independent of its cultural origin. It is a differentiation that may be lost on those who thrive on compartmentalization but for the two packed houses at her Wild Card program, the freshness of her approach and the quality of her dancing are indisputable.
Throughout the dance there is a heady sense of improvisation between Patel and the musicians that requires a heightened musicality from both. I don’t want to take my eyes off her, and the musicians never do. Between the narrative sections are the pure dance or rhythmical sections in which she becomes one with the music like a human instrument. Her rapid footwork, darting arm gestures and fast — unbelievably fast — turns are nevertheless clear and fully articulated as if there is a still point within her around which, and from which, everything moves.
Nicholas Minns, writingaboutdance.com

With exquisitely splayed hands and rapid thrusting of her arms sideways, up and down, Patel carved beautiful shapes. Her rapid footwork and small, precise jumps were immaculate.
With its strict codification, straight backs and formal quality, Bharatanatyam shares characteristics with ballet and the technique is no less demanding. Seeta Patel is a fine exponent of the form.
Stuart Sweeney, criticaldance.org

Bharatanatyam specialist Seeta Patel was commissioned by Sadler’s Wells to present a new piece of work and curate another, the result was mesmirising. I look forward to seeing more of this high quality and thought-provoking work, and it will be interesting to see Patel perform the same piece a few years down the line.
Suman Bhuchar, Asian Culture Vulture, 4 stars

As a rule, a reviewer aims to bring to his or her chosen topic a little more knowledge than the average reader. Many of us are rather obsessed with theatre and this obsession leads us to attend more performances and spend more time thinking about and articulating our thoughts, on the strengths and weaknesses of a show, than our readers would ever care to expend.
Tonight, I must confess to knowing little about the South Asian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam. For once, perhaps this is not such a bad thing, as this review must now be written from the heart rather than the head.
Some of you may have spotted a glimpse of Seeta Patel as one of the mentors in this year’s BBC Young Dancer of the Year competition. Tonight, Patel herself takes centre stage. Bharatanatyam is essentially a solo dance form, often giving expressive interpretations of tales of love involving Hindu gods.
Tonight’s main piece lasts over an hour—Patel determinedly defends the longer form against bite-sized extracts more commonly used in festivals and on television. She is right in this. Imagine a world in which only popular scenes of Shakespeare were ever performed, because the whole plays were deemed too demanding or time-consuming; or a world where no orchestra played more than a single movement of any great symphony.
Patel deserves praise and encouragement for insisting on performing more extended pieces. It is one way of showing respect for her art. Another is to perform, without rest, for one hour. It is an hour in which her concentration seems unwavering; a marvel of stamina, grace and sensitivity. The dance form involves the whole body—steps are balletic, geometric and occasionally redolent of flamenco (which is clearly the descendent of this and Kathak, another dance form from the Indian subcontinent).
Varnam in Raga Anandabhairavi tells the story of ‘love in separation’ as a young woman reveals to her friend the depth of her love for the god Krishna. Bharatanatyam utilises the whole body including some floor work in which Patel’s arms, hands, eyes and mouth communicate an astonishing range of human emotion, each one recognisable to anyone who has known the rapturous joys and agonising uncertainties of romantic devotion.
Patel’s delivery is intense and persuasive. No doubt any young man in the audience was left feeling, whenever her dance seemed directed towards him, as blessed and exalted as Krishna himself. The charms of Bharatanatyam are, I suspect, not exclusively religious.
Patel’s performance is all the more remarkable once we understand that, although the basis is choreographed (by Patel and Mavin Khoo) and greatly rehearsed, each performance is at the same time a conversation between singer (in this company, the excellent Y Yadavan) and dancer.
As the vocals improvise around a theme, with mood and tone varying from evening to evening, so the dancer must be alert to interpreting in the moment. Like a great actor, the dancer of Bharatanatyam must thoroughly inhabit her character whilst remaining open and responsive to the ever-evolving emoting of her collaborator. When questioned on how she copes with these demands, Patel replies with enigmatic eloquence: “I try not to try”.
Besides Y Yadavan, Senthuran Premakumar (percussion) and Acuthan Sripathmanathan (violin) are ably conducted by Vanathi Bosch. How rewarding to have a live dance event accompanied by live (not pre-recored) music. Guy Hoare’s lighting design enhances and emphasises each mood and pose the dancer strikes, drawing the audience ever deeper into tales which Patel’s movement gives poetic physical form.
There are only about fifty of us to witness this stunning exhibition of a venerable art form being ever renewed. This is good for creating intimacy between dancer and audience, but far, far short of what Seeta Patel’s captivating show deserves.
British Theatre Guide 2015
Review by Martin Thomasson