Exploring racial identity is difficult at the best of times, especially when attempting to express that tension through interpretive dance, music and song. Kathakbox, by the Sonia Sabri Company, brings together urban hip-hop, beat boxing, Indian song and traditional Kathak dance within a simple space split into 25 white squares marked out on the stage.
The performance explores the hidden links and conflicts between different cultures which are forced to exist within a close environment. The multilingual performance is punctuated by cries of “set me free” and “we are what we are” juxtaposed against deep questions such as “who are you? Who am I?”, all supported by home-made tabla rhythms mixed live on stage. The movement is energetic and impressive to watch, but what begins as a promising idea soon stagnates while the dance sequences and songs become repetitive and stale.
Without evolution within the performance, the internal messages become lost in a sea of layered emotion and turmoil. Disappointingly, this cloud of confusion does not give way to a clear conclusion, which leaves the performance, and audience, feeling lost in a web of different emotions. However, this comment on society’s complexities as a whole works well when coupled with the first spoken lines; “Black Caribbean, Black British?” I’m from Birmingham! Which box do I tick?”
Kathakbox is on tour. For more information see the website here.