Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

One of the defining characteristics of the Edinburgh Fringe is the variety of international acts on offer. This dance performance is one such show that one wouldn’t normally get a chance to see here. Shiva Tandava is a Bharatnatyam (Indian classical dance form) performance brought to stage by the girls of La Martinière College, Lucknow. The troupe is about 13 strong and the choreography is by the school dance teacher.

Shiva is one of the triad of three main Gods in Hinduism. His cosmic dance is believed to be representative of the destruction of the world. It is called Tandava, the balancing form is his consort Parvati, and her creation dance form of Lasya. The performance is in the main atrium of Greyfriar’s Kirk, which is both symbolic as the home of God and exceedingly atmospheric.

Rather than a deep dive into mythology, the troupe opens with a popular English pop number. This takes the form of a fusion dance and sets the scene. This is followed by the Ardhanareshwara dance, which is a duet. This is performed beautifully: the co-ordination between the dancers is perfect, and their rhythm is great. A short introduction precedes each dance, which makes it easier to follow, for those in the audience who are unfamiliar with the traditional forms. The final dance in the sequence is the Tandava, characterised by its fast beats and louder thumps. This is the longest set and finishes in a crescendo of light, colour and movement. The girls finish with a famous formation, to resounding applause from the audience.

The performance is marketed as amateur; and is decidedly so. It is evident that the girls lack the finesse of professional dancers. But they are pre-teen age, and they are clearly nervous about their possibly first international appearance. So the misses in steps and the lack of fine-tuned twirls are easily forgiven. In the second half of the performance, they look much more self-assured. This is a wonderful effort from schoolgirls on for free. Combined with the Kirk that lends itself well to the dance, this is a unique event.