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Phoenix Dance bring Darshan Singh Bhuller's "Planted Seeds" to London's Robin Howard Dance Theatre at The Place from Tuesday 4th to Saturday 8th November at 8pm (Box Office 020 7387 0031).
This searing piece of dance drama packs a powerful punch and is sometimes shocking in its depiction of abuse. Here is my review from 5 years ago, when it was performed by the Darshan Singh Bhuller Dance Company:
September 1998, London, QEH
by Stuart Sweeney
Darshan Singh Bhuller has choreographed an immensely powerful work, "Planted Seeds", which had its second outing at the QEH in mid-September, the first having been at The Place earlier this year.
Darshan used to dance for London Contemporary Dance Theatre and choreographed several works for the company. I remember seeing his "Beyond the Law" at Sadlers Wells in the early 80s and being impressed by this accessible, sympathetic piece based on a mixed race relationship in South Africa.
Like this earlier work, "Planted Seeds" takes a political tragedy as its theme. In this case, the gross human rights abuses in the Bosnian conflict. Darshan visited Sarajevo and based the work on the personal accounts of the young people he met there and newspaper reports by Misha Glennie and Julian Borger,which are reproduced in the programme.
"Planted Seeds" works very well and combines fascinating choreography with great emotional force. The young dancers are mainly graduates of the London Contemporary Dance School at the Place and do themselves and their teachers great credit.
After a brief scene-setting, showing the vitality of peace-time Bosnia, we then see a 30 minute representation of the imprisonment and abuse of Muslim women by Serb militia in a school gymnasium. The sombre 1st movement of Gorecki's "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs" provides a perfect foil for choreography which forcefully expresses the resignation, outrage and despair of the women and the contempt of their callous captors. At the end of this first part, the silence in the nearly full auditorium highlighted the intensity of the work. "Planted Seeds" continues with the story of a couple from across the racial divide who refuse to be separated and are eventually murdered. This theme gives Darshan the opportunity for a series of touching pdd between the two lovers, which act as a partial relief after the wrenching first section, until it too ends in tragedy. The brief final part, shows a conflict between two men of different generations, where the younger man seems to reject the murderous atmosphere which surrounds him, only to be killed himself. In both these latter sections, the dancing remains excellent and although the choreography retains much interest, the impact and focus of the first section are not fully maintained, perhaps because the narrative drive is less clear.
Planted Seeds should be a must for those who found Christopher Bruce's "Swansong" an amazingly dramatic experience, as it tackles similar themes with a vocabulary of its own. "Planted Seeds"will go on tour in the UK and overseas in 1999, so watch out for it.
Dancers - Lindsay Butcher, Lee Clayden, David Hughes, Celia Hulton, Sarah Nicholls, Bob Smith, Amanda Weaver