Vidya Patel: Star of ‘One of this Years Finest Works’

This February, the Richard Alston Dance company is bringing to Norwich a whole new and exciting programme of works: Martin Lawrence’s Tangent, Alston’s newest dance Chacony (which will premiere at Norwich Theatre Royal), and Alston’s very special an Italian in Madrid, hailed for its fusion of different cultures and styles. Indian classical dancer and rising star Vidya Patel will be joining the company to perform the piece.

Described by The Observer as ‘one of this years finest works’, an Italian in Madrid is inspired by the Sonatas of Domemico Scarlatti, a baroque composer hugely influenced by Spanish Guitar music.

Vidya Patel  has participated in classical Indian dance styles from an early age and is currently training under the guidance of Sujata Banerjee, one of the most versatile South Asian artists working in the UK. In 2015, Vidya was a grand finalist in the BBC Young Dancer competition. In the same year, she also danced in a Sadler’s Wells showcase with other finalists at Suffolk’s Latitude Festival for the visit by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.

Vidya sheds some more light on what Norwich can expect from the performance:

Please tell us a bit about An Italian in Madrid. What can audiences expect?

An Italian in Madrid is a beautiful piece of choreography which has been intricately crafted by Richard to amalgamate the styles taking influences from the Kathak dance form. For me, this piece has a grandness and celebratory feel to it which gradually increases throughout the until the grand finale. It has a beautiful narrative conveying the story of Princess Maria Barbara, student of Scarlatti, and the journey his music went through after he joined the Princess following her marriage alliance with Prince Ferdinand. The complex sonatas throughout the piece are played live by Jason Ridgway, which is an absolute treat for us dancers and definitely for the audience.

How do you prepare for a show?

Before performing I usually run over the piece visually in my head. I always like to keep a good amount of time to get hair and make-up done. This really helps me mentally prepare and zone in to the performance mode. Standing on the stage before starting the performance puts my mind at peace. I always make sure I watch the other company dancers performing before I go on stage, even if it’s for a short while, as I find that this also helps puts my nerves at ease.

What do you do in your time off being on tour?

Being with Richard Alston Dance Company on tour is a new experience for me, as it is one of my first professional international tours. On my time away from the company I regularly attend Kathak classes in London led by my Guruji, Sujata Banerjee. Recently, after completing my Kathak graduation performance, I became much more interested in Indian classical music, which inspired me to take up vocal lessons in Hindustani classical music. I try to see as much different shows and exhibitions as I can in my free time.

When did you first discover dance?

My first experiences of dance were from watching my sisters’ dance and not being able to do the same because I was too young. There was always that sense of eagerness to do something which I wasn’t able to. I continued dancing, but only after I joined the Centre of Advanced Training was I able to envisage the endless possibilities of dance. Now after being with the company, I’ve been lucky to take the company class with them and this has also helped me discover dance in a new way.

What has been the best moment of your career so far?

There has been quite a few moments which I’m so thankful for. Performing at the Sadler’s Wells stage for the first time with the other finalists at BBC Young Dancer 2015, and then performing on the same stage but with RADC the following year was an overwhelming feeling. Joining the RADC for the tour is a special experience for me. After performing the premiere at Sadler’s Wells, I never imagined being able to continue dancing with them, so now I’m enjoying every moment of it. Another time that was important for me was my Kathak Manch Pravesh, my graduation solo recital performed with live Indian classical music recently last year to an invited audience.

The Richard Alston Dance Company will be performing at Norwich Theatre Royal on February 10 & 11


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January 2022
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