Superlative dancing Johannes Hjorth

Nietzsche once observed: “Those who were dancing were thought mad by those who could not hear the music.” If you understand this apercu, then go and see Cirque du Bombay.

An eclectic mix of dance styles – and advertised as such – it’s not so much something for everyone as everything for someone. While the range is varied, everything is performed with life and passion, the mark of a worthwhile dance performance. I’m not tremendously fond of hip-hop, but Shikha Pahari’s dancing enchanted me despite the music. Similarly, while the male performers stepped close to the narrow but deep divide between playing the fool and looking the fool, their performance extorted laughter from the audience and was hugely enjoyable.

Two performances in particular merit mention. To this leathery ballet afficionado, Joanna Vymeris’s performance was a treat. Her full-bodied movements combined effortlessness and precision that are the mark of long practice. In particular, she has managed the trick of making her arms appear boneless as they float through the air. Definitely one to watch.

The other is the aforementioned Shikha Pahari. A secondary dancer in the first part of the performance, she was outstanding in her solo performances. The first and best of these was a traditional Hindu temple dance. Its musical background was extremely simple, consisting of beats and a basic chant – in other words, it would be tiresome and silly if not performed flawlessly. But Shikha’s performance was anything but tiresome – her superlative dancing had a hypnotic quality that left me feeling locked out of time, that rare combination of ‘it can’t be over already’ with the sense that it has been going on forever. In my opinion, both Joanna and Shikha should consider pursuing dance professionally. 

The performance did have two flaws. The first was that the performances were separated by several minutes of an empty stage that had out-of-focus, psychadelic film footage played across it with vaguely appropriate music in the background. I am not entirely sure what this was meant to aid – whether an attempt to explicitly imitate Cirque du Soleil, or to give the actors time to change, or to bulk out the program. Either way, I would advise the troupe to abandon it, to replace it with something by the tertiary dancers, or, if both are impractical, to at least get some better stock footage. After listening to generic Italian music while watching generic Italian scenery, I half expected to see 'Peroni Nastro Azuro: The Next Italian Wave' appear on the screen.

The other issue was the short duration of the performance. Far better to be left wanting more than wishing there were less, but still… It was over suddenly and far too soon. But these are quibbles. Cirque du Bombay is a minor gem, well worth the time away from your desk.