The Playhouse, Leeds – 1 April 2023

Reviewed by: Sal E Marino


Reflections of an Indian Dancer was not only an insight into the personal lives and experiences of both the director, Balbir Singh and dancer Sooraj Subramaniam but it also brought to life some of the oldest dance traditions that are embedded within the dance culture of our modern world today. These two individuals have been fortunate to meet along the path of life, collaborate and share their knowledge and histories of their cultures based on ‘the collective’ and the communities that they have been a part of.

Throughout the performance we kept finding ourselves at ‘The Temple’ – a place that long ago, one would go to to find peace and solace and literally ‘find yourself’ at. In this place, you would be bathed in light, hear sounds that would attune you back into alignment and balance with the earth and all that is and a place where you could watch (and or take part in) dance performances. The dance was part of healing and a celebration of the joy of life. Everything becomes balanced in the dance; the moves to the left balanced with the moves to the right, masculine and feminine energies are in harmony. Then like petals, the body of the dancer unfolds and spins in flux. And this is what Sooraj performed for us. Watching or being part of this in a temple setting, with the light and the sounds, I can imagine could change a person in that it could help one recalibrate and feel more balanced. It was surely a wonderful experience to witness at the playhouse in Leeds.

Sooraj Subramaniam grew up in Malaysia where he trained in the classical dance styles of Bharatanatyam, Odissi and later ballet and contemporary dance and Kathak, which are all part of the performance and showcase his phenomenal talent as a dancer. Balbir Singh specialises in bringing different dance styles together to make exciting and engaging dance theatre and so it was a pleasure to see the work of these very talented individuals. Reflections of an Indian Dancer is a rich tapestry of dance that is made up of traditional and modern threads and thus creates a most beautiful piece of art, deep in wisdom, culture and precious life.