Mudgal is one of the leading classical dancers of India. Three years ago, she was one of the stars in the Edinburgh Festival's celebration of Indian dance; now she comes to London for two performances, part of a longer Indian series at the Shaw Theatre, presented by Sama Arts. With her niece, Arushi Mudgal, and live music, she gives a recital of brilliant variety.
Mudgal specialises in the Odissi style. She wears her sari drawn about the hips, fabric hanging down in concertina pleats that give a lovely emphasis to the tilt of the hip. As in many Indian forms, there are several kinds of dancing here: story-telling, invocations, pure dances. Throughout, Mudgal shows an irresistible sense of rhythm. As her feet stamp, she can reshape a phrase, adding new accents with eyes, shoulders, turns of hands and fingers.
That command of phrasing gives wonderful point to Mudgal's storytelling. One solo depicts Radha's quarrel with her lover, the god Krishna. To show Radha repenting her temper, Mudgal casts her eyes down, then up - her gaze sweeping a long, slow circle, up past her feet and body before she lifts her head. All she does is to look up, yet it's a huge movement, a change of heart in a single glance.
Her niece and pupil, Arushi Mudgal shows the same care for rhythmic and narrative detail. Arushi's dancing has a swaying delicacy, with youthful pliancy in her waist. She has less simplicity than Madhavi, making more emphatic use of her hands and wrists, but this is sparkling dancing.
The two women dance some exuberant duets, sliding in and out of unison. Circling the stage, they come face to face, arms sweeping, faces tilting in what looks like a greeting before the dance moves on.
The season of Indian classical performances continues to 3 December (0207 727 4566; www.sama.co.uk)Reuse content