Review: Quicksand/Nine (Harbourfront NextSteps and inDANCE)

Harbourfront Centre presents Hari Krishnan’s double bill of Indian classic dance interpretation, Quicksand and Nine

Quicksand and Nine are presented as a double bill at the Harbourfront Centre’s Fleck Theatre. Each show is choreographed by Hari Krishnan, a dancer, choreographer, scholar and artistic director of Toronto’s inDANCE, who boasts an impressive resume. Each of the two shows are Krishnan’s very different interpretations of the navarasa, nine archetypal emotions that are popular in Bharatanatyam, Indian classical dance.

Quicksand is Krishnan’s modern take on classical Indian dance and vets itself as being a postmodern version of each of the navarasa. Typically performed by women, this production solely featured men. The audience is treated to nine unique and different interpretations of these in the form of: Valentine’s Day, pollution, “an eye for an eye,” Arab Spring, idol icons, nightmare, the Universe on your lap(top), broken promises, and BLISS. At first, Valentine’s Day was my favourite, and then I liked pollution the best – until I saw “an eye for an eye,” demonstrating this show’s tendency to just get better and better. I loved watching the dancers move in tandem with one another and the music was so upbeat and catchy that I couldn’t help my tap my foot along to it.

After a brief break the audience got to see Nine. I was surprised that Nine was performed after Quicksand, simply because this was such a classic take on the navarasa that it seemed like it should have gone first, showing the audience a progression from classical to modern. However, it seems that Krishnan wanted to turn this classical form of dance on its head, something that he succeeded in doing.

Nine featured one male and eight female dancers who all wore brightly coloured saris and bells on their ankles that gave a satisfying jingle whenever they moved and stomped their feet on the ground. The audience got to experience Krishnan’s classical interpretation of: love, humour, compassion, anger, valour, fear, disgust, wonder and peace.

Unlike in Quicksand, where I could easily tell one navarasa from the next, I had a difficult time understanding when the transitions took place in Nine. My companion for the evening, my lovely roommate, found she had the opposite problem!

It was difficult to choose a favourite show or even a favourite part in each show. I will say that I preferred Quicksand slightly more over Nine, although both were incredibly well done.

I thought that the best navarasa that was depicted in Quicksand was “idol icon.” This interpretation had eight of the dancers dangling their legs off the edge of the stage, applying lipstick and pretending to stare at themselves in a mirror while the ninth dancer strutted his stuff in heels on a lit up runway. Catchy music was blasting, and the catwalk dancer was performing impressive sequences to the sounds of everything from Madonna to Britney Spears to Justin Bieber.

This show only runs until April 14 so I would highly recommend getting tickets if you’re able to. If you aren’t, Quicksand will be shown at the Canada Dance Festival at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in June, a good excuse for a weekend getaway to the beautiful National Capital.


Quicksand/Nine is playing at the Harbourfront Centre, Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay W. until April 14
– Shows run at 8 p.m. from April 12 – April 14
– Ticket prices are $30-$35, seniors $25-$28, students $15
– Tickets are available at the box office, online and at 416-973-4000

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