Five Minutes with: Seeta Patel
Not Today’s Yesterday is an international collaboration between UK award-winning Bharatanatyam artist Seeta Patel and Australian choreographer Lina Limosani. This work blends classical Indian dance (Bharatanatyam) and contemporary dance in a striking, intelligent and engaging evisceration of ‘pretty’ and ‘suitable’ historical stories. It is a one-woman show which subversively co-opts whitewashing against itself.
We have a quick chat with Seeta Patel to find out more about the show...
Is your event touring, a premiere, or a one-off for the Brighton Festival?
It had a run at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2017, then a UK tour, a show in Italy and India and will continue to tour in Autumn 2019.
Why should someone come and see your show?
It’s seductive in its storytelling and visually layered, with and evocative sound design. But I can only touch the tip of the iceberg with words. This is an unusual show sitting between dance and theatre that needs to be seen. In the words of a writer from the ‘twobrowngirls’ publication who saw the work in its early days:
“I’d seen the work in progress around a year ago and it was haunting, hypnotic and extremely clever in its execution. Through the medium of a fairy-tale story, it draws people in with eerie familiarity, but as with any fairy-tale there are always dark undertones. Parts are grotesque and exaggerated with caricatures of colonial supremacy, but other parts are gentle and vulnerable as Seeta gazes wide-eyed into the depths of what was.”
Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The inspiration stems from our concerns that revisionist and airbrushed histories have become a central issue of tension throughout the world, particularly in Western democracies. Britain and Australia, amongst others, have sordid histories and relationships with indigenous and migrant communities. Skewed histories fuel a distorted sense of nationalism. This work aims to open up conversation through a clever appropriation of whitewashed histories.
What sort of person is going to love this show?
From children to the elderly and anyone that likes hearing stories and wants to be taken on a journey. This work is relatable to those versed as well as new to dance. The show is a great way into the medium of dance through nuanced storytelling and visuals. It is attractive to those interested in relevant political questions (without being bashed over the head with politics). It is an emotional and visual way into a complex set of political questions, which can then be chewed over in our special post-show discussion with me and invited guests.
What will surprise people about this show?
There is some very impactful imagery in the work and lots and lots of small details to be tantalised by. And the end is an exquisite hyperbole – operatic even.