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  5. Pagrav Dance Company at the Barbican: opera meets classical indian dance

26 May 2022

A performance in three acts, Gustav Holst’s Sāvitri at the Barbican is the first time Classical Indian Dance committee member Urja Desai Thakore faced the challenge of choreographing for an opera. Led by Urja, Pagrav Dance Company is an ISTD Approved Dance Centre, and focuses on teaching kathak in its purest form, whilst also challenging the classical tradition through contemporary reimagining.


Classical indian dancer

Credit: Barbican

Written in 1909, Holst’s Sāvitri tells the tale of Sāvitri’s desperate plight to save the life of her husband. Using her decades of experience to direct a trio of dancers from her company, the infusion of Urja’s kathak stylings into Holst’s story of love, betrayal, and death creates a beautifully cosmopolitan blend of western opera and traditional Classical Indian movement.

As the low rumble of the Britten Sinfonia, our chamber orchestra ensemble for the evening, fills Barbican Hall, we are immediately drawn into the world of Sāvitri and its ethereal lyricism. Sinister and eerie, yet simultaneously propulsive and captivating, Sir Mark Elder’s deft conducting presents the orchestral third as a thematic introduction to the rest of the performances. An overture in preparation for the striking movements of the performers from Pagrav Dance Company that were yet to come.


Britten sinfonia

Credit: Mark Allan

Performed by Meera Patel, Mira Salat, and Parbati Chaudhry, three ISTD trained teachers at Pagrav Dance Company, the carefully choreographed movements of each dancer, synchronised and distinct at the same time, create an enthralling medley of culture and movement.