‘Hooray for Bollywood’
Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre
Indiana Repertory Theatre; Aug. 7
Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s closing program is another high point for a season that began with the sizzling My Gypsy Soul in May.
On Aug. 7, Hooray for Bollywood swirled across the Mainstage with luxurious dancing to match the lush costumes. A treat for the senses, including humor, the program of three world premiers and one reprise (Lagaan) was equally cerebral.
While the standout is “Devdas,” a love story with a wrenchingly sad ending, “The Sari” earned equal billing for concept and execution. A length of silk swayed in a vertical drop down center stage, as a corps of 13 women, one of whom was not fully in sync, executed seemingly static hand movements. They shimmered in delicate beauty of wrapped saris, like a garden of freshly-dewed tulips.
They initially lull and mesmerize, suffusing lightness, grace, understatement. When one dancer darts from behind the silk drop, clad in silk pajama-like undergarments, her angular moves should disrupt, yet they do not and the timeless, endless waving never ceases. Ultimately, the deviant succumbs. But, has she made her point nonetheless?
It was particularly satisfying to watch the stars of GHDT in the corps of this piece. What makes them so good is their ability to blend with vibrancy.
“Lagaan”’s pas de deux by Rachel Rutland-Maryanovskaya and Ivan Kozlov was a show shopper. Demanding choreography was matched with virtuoso dancing.
The opening number, a spoof that turns on a running gag, “It’s Bollywood, not Hollywood,” gifted us with the best yet Scarlet O’Hara. Christine Colquitt-Smerdel is a brilliant comedienne. And that Dolly Parton; WOW.
“Devdas” introduced Leslie Dodge in her first major company role, and she proved she has the ability to carry it. The subtle changes in body carriage, dancing and acting from a love-struck teen, to a wife of a man she does not love, to a person of compassion, to a distraught woman, were more than noteworthy. Everyone in this work delivered a finely crafted performance, including Alyona Yakovleva as Fate, Ivan Kozlov as Devdas, Christine Colquitt-Smerdel as the Courtesan, Martin Casanova as Chunilal, Heather King and Sarah Collister as the mothers, and Selahattin Erkan as the husband.
The ensemble performed with exactness throughout. They are Shana Perkins, Brittany Crosby, Marisol Ortiz-Amézquita, Emma Bausback, Karen George, Amanda Pease, Natalie Taylor.
Lighting by Ryan Koharchik was subtly superb. Special mention to Gregory Hancock for challenging choreography and gorgeous costumes. Wardrobe assistants and crew effected split-second changes.