I suspect that Rumi’s Field is the kind of show that meets your expectations, regardless of what those expectations might be. If the show’s description as “a dance-theater work” using “a rich Indian Classical and semi-Classical soundscape” that “reaffirms our intimate connection with nature” gives you goose bumps, you’re likely to love it. But if you’d rank seeing a show like this somewhere between root canal and prostate exam, you’d probably also leave feeling validated. It’s certainly not for everyone.
Bharatanatyam artist Lakshmi Sriraman uses her art form to tell several stories during her 60-minute solo performance. What is Bharatanatyam? Think miming with symbolic movement and a very small dash of ballet thrown in for good measure. Most of the Cincy Fringe audience’s exposure to this style is likely minimal. The opening night audience apparently appreciated the show; one commented, “She’s literally the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.” Another gave it a standing ovation and was beaming from ear to ear. The applause at the end was more than polite.
Sriraman dances with sincerity and shows dedication to her craft. She performs a dance and then disappears behind a curtain for a minute of silence, followed by a few moments of music. When she reappears, she’s had a minimal costume change and proceeds to tell more stories through dance, facial expressions and movement.
The program gives details to the themes of each piece with a lengthy paragraph. This is helpful, but not necessary to understand the symbolism. The work is fairly expressive, and the narrative relatively simple. However, Sriraman understands that not everyone will follow, and her effort to make this art form accessible is to be commended.
Fringe should be about diversity. Rumi’s Field is a nice addition to the roster of productions this year, a reminder to celebrate art in a variety of ways. As a production, it’s simple and unpolished. The silent scene transitions are awkward, and many attendees might not appreciate the art form. Regardless, it is a culturally enriching exercise.