Tempo Dance Festival features Dunedin artiste

Dance of Love in Bharata Natyam style

Staff Reporter – 


Dunedin based Indian Classical Dance teacher and performer Swaroopa Unni is scheduled to appear at the Tempo Dance Festival in Auckland next month.

Her performances, titled, ‘Sringaram’ (Romantic Love) will be held on Thursday, October 6 at 730 pm and on Saturday, October 8 at 630 pm at the Loft at Q Theatre on Queen Street, Central Business District.

She will also conduct a workshop on October 8 at Wellesley Studios, 113 Wellesley Street, Auckland City. To register, please email tempo.workshops@gmail.com

Artistic Journey

Swaroopa calls ‘Sringaram’ as ‘Dance of Love,’ which has had successful runs at the Fringe Festivals of Dunedin and New Zealand and at the Body Festival in Christchurch.

Swaroopa said that the ‘Dance of Love’ is a journey through some of the masterpieces of Indian fine arts.

She has researched, choreographed and performed this solo dance theatre with additional music by India’s Sandeep Pillai.

Following the performance on October 6, she will present an artist talk.

Back in Time

Swaroopa said that Bharata Natyam is often praised for its technical virtuosity and expressions that emphasise the devotional aspect of the characters.

“Less known and least explored are dances that delved into different emotions of love.

Padams and Javalis (short music compositions) performed by ‘devadasis’ – the dancing women of India – were mostly about love, longing, desire and eroticism. It reflected their lives as courtesans and salon dancers who were an important part of society in the early 19th and 20th century,” she said.

Photo Caption:

  1. Technical Virtuosity of Bharata Natyam
  2. Swaroopa strikes a pose
  3. Sringaram, the Dance of Love


‘Sringaram’ is an immersive performance; it is visceral and sensual, both complex and subtle in its beauty- Jennifer Aitken, www.theatreview.org.nz

This show is an example of the amazing work that is arising from our complex contemporary and multi-cultural New Zealand society – Tania Kopytko www.theatreview.org.nz

Understanding, perhaps that she is dealing with a mostly uninitiated audience, Unni’s programme notes clearly explain the important elements of her narrative progression from darkness and absence into joy. However, such is the depth of her empathetic interaction with the audience that these notes are merely an amplification of our instinctive understanding of the events she portrays.

Unni is a very engaging performer with a vivid palate of expressive gestures that paint a canvas of life and beyond. Moreover, she brings to her choreography a feeling of joy, an everyday humour and a rare sense of devotion and dedication which seems to touch an inner core of understanding shared between the dancer and the viewer.

-Sharon Matthews, March 20, 2012


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