Press

The Rite of Spring

Seeta's brand new ensemble work reimagining the iconic Rite of Spring completed a successful UK tour in May 2019.
Check out the press reviews about the work:

GUARDIAN
Patel brings out the more lyrical, romantic elements of Stravinsky’s score…instead of an earthy, ominous Rite, through Patel’s eyes the scene is dreamy, the stage glowing (there is lovely lighting from Warren Letton), hand gestures look like plants growing, nature abundant in a place of warmth and wonder.

DANCING TIMES
Patel quickly seizes on the raw, percussive energy of Stravinsky’s chugging music. As the cast of six stamp out its rhythms, it feels like the two very different forms were meant for each other. The dance is energetic, full of intricate footwork and gesture, and of geometric patterns that come and go with ease as the dancers weave around each other…Patel’s Rite is a fascinating diversion from the usual take on the story. It also looks gorgeous thanks to Warren Letton’s lighting and Jason and Anshu Arora’s quirky costumes.

DANCE EUROPE
…then The Rite of Spring began and it was fabulous. Peacock-eye fingers jabbed out from thrusting arms, bare feet thumped the floor and bodies prowled the stage in strict geometric formations that carried a powerful emotional drive. The musicality was delicious and the unified sense of purpose was palpable.

A YOUNGER THEATRE
Patel has created an authentic dance piece that is truly fresh and original. Her aim to bring Bharatanatyam into a modern age alongside contemporary dance is undoubtedly a success…exploring this new medium through an adapted version of The Rite of Spring is thoroughly enjoyable.

PULSE CONNECTS
…this is a luscious piece of art…Patel’s work embraces the percussive stamping of Bharatanatyam…at times her choreography weaves the dancers in and out of patterns like a murmuration of starlings…given his unconventional approach to ballet, I feel sure Nijinsky would approve.

STAGE TALK
The dancers were supremely tight as a unit and performed with relentless energy, intensity and focus. Their small hand gestures were like visual imagist poetry in suggesting new life…Seeta Patel is certainly onto something in looking at such exciting cultural fusions.

BEHIND THE ARRAS: (Birmingham)
Patel directs with a uniquely stunning vision. With Stravinsky’s century-old score as the influencing factor there is a presentation of Bharatanatyam to add a new dimension to the story of the beauty found at springtime…a vibrant, bold, exciting contemporary piece.

BIRMINGHAM PRESS
…confident, vivid and moving…

THE REVIEWS HUB
Stunning and visually enticing

THE STAGE
Seeta Patel has created an evocative, visceral interpretation of The Rite of Spring

BROMSGROVE STANDARD (Birmingham)
The six dancers performed with great energy and precision, effortlessly interweaving east and west dance styles to reveal new layers of Stravinsky’s powerful music in a thought-provoking and powerful interpretation.

CULTURE WHISPER
Seeta Patel has created a work of impact and ambition which is further enhanced by committed and powerful performances by the ensemble of six dancers…tackling a classic takes great bravery, but in her commanding and utterly convincing interpretation, Patel has created a must-see epic.

DANCE TABS
The unbelievably intricate footwork characteristic of Bharatanatyam is executed with such speed, tight turns and forceful arm-work that I reel from its frenetic energy and urgency…the dancers’ extended fingers pulse like small daggers, faces remain calm yet expressive…exciting, dynamic.

NOT TODAY'S YESTERDAY

★★★★ – “A deft demolition of rightwing wrongs...a punchy, pertinent piece of dancer theatre”
The Guardian

“An unmissable treat”
British Theatre Guide

“An exceptional piece of political theatre that speaks volumes without a word being said on the stage”
Afroanalysis

★★★★★ – “Not Today’s Yesterday is a poised and thoughtful work and a spectacular performance”
Broadwaybaby

★★★★★ – “This is outstanding, innovative, must-see dance”
Adelaidenow

SIGMA

IT LOOKS, AND IS, EXQUISITELY BEAUTIFUL’
★★★★★ The Herald

‘A SHOW THAT IS QUIETLY MESMERISING’
★★★★ The List

‘ASTONISHING SKILLS IN A CLEVER AND ENGROSSING PIECE’
★★★★ The Stage

‘SIGMA IS NOT YOUR USUAL JUGGLING SHOW AND IS ALL THE BETTER FOR IT’
★★★★ Broadway Baby

‘A TRULY ARTFUL MASH-UP OF DISTINCT SKILLS’
★★★★ The Times

SOMETHING THEN, SOMETHING NOW

"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 mesmerising. 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