Something Then, Something Now


Invited to curate an evening for the Wild Card initiative at Sadler's Wells, Seeta brought together an evening of classical dance and Carnatic music for the Lilian Baylis Theatre.

The central piece, like so many Bharatanatyam works, is a story of love in separation.

It focuses on the relationship between three character roles: the youthful heroine (nayika), the god Krishna, and her friend (sakhi) who will bring Krishna to her. The nayika oscillates from confiding in her friend, to daydreaming and introspection about her Lord, always returning to address her sakhi and plead with her to bring Him to her.

The composition takes the nayika from intense moments of love, passion and desire for her Lord Krishna, to deeply spiritual places of realisation. This duality between love and devotion provides a landscape for the nayika to experience a rainbow of emotions, from intoxication with the nature around her to the madness of being deprived of connection to Him, pleading to her sakhi to bring Him to her.

Krishna is represented by several motifs throughout the piece, from the peacock feather gesture that opens the performance, to the wafting sounds of His flute on the wind. The peacock feather that adorns His hair is particularly used as a metaphor for Him: playful, mischievous, ethereal, the object of desire.

The performance is much more than a dance of devotion: it shows a mortal contemplating union with a god - both physical and spiritual - a consummation both human and divine.

The piece delves deep into the concepts of love (shringara) and devotion (bhakti), the form allowing us to play with these feelings and explore the story from many perspectives. There is coyness, devotion, mystery and disappointment - the excitement and joy of a love affair played out in a spiritual domain.

The result echoes our own attempts to connect with others emotionally, and also reminds us of the timelessness of this process, and the spiritual union to which it ultimately relates.

The work was extremely well received by two sold out nights.

"The way Seeta moves around the stage is seemless, her expression oozes from every part of her being in a way that an audience can experience her emotions and desires through a minute hand gesture or a sideways glance.
The piece was hugely entertaining and evoked bundles of emotion from its audience. Seeta’s presentation was a blurring between performance and worship – interlocked when exploring themes such as god and man, duality and union, love and devotion."
Faye Stockley,, 5 Stars

"I look forward to seeing more of this high quality and thought-provoking work..."
Suman Bhuchar, Asian Culture Vulture, 4 stars

"Patel’s delivery is intense and persuasive"
"a marvel of stamina, grace and sensitivity"
Martin Thomasson, British Theatre Guide

Something Then, Something Now trailer (2015)
Seeta Patel
Mavin Khoo
Y Yadavan
Mridangist (percussion):
K S Bhavani Shankar
Achuthan Sripathmanathan
Lighting Design:
Guy Hoare