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'Kattam Katti': Celebrating India's Uttarayan Kite Festival at Sadler's Wells

Uttarayan is a famous kite festival that takes place in Gujarat, a state in North India. Every year, people of all ages, gender, religion and social status from across the country unite in Gujarat to fly kites to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of summer. It is regarded as one of the greatest festivals in India.

Pagrav Dance Company, founded in 2005 by dancer, choreographer and teacher Urja Desai Thakore, has brought this very festival to life on a London stage - at Sadler's Wells' own Lilian Baylis Studio. The company fuses perfectly the traditional elements of Indian culture with hints of contemporary design. Furthermore, by casting British dancers and musicians of Indian heritage, they are able to represent and integrate the performer's roots with the familiarity of modern British culture.

The story in Kattam Katti was told through vibrant props, dazzling live music, glistening costumes and lively movements - greatly enchanting the audience, transporting them to the heart of the Uttarayan. The chaotic aspects of the show performed through bickerings, arguments and fights between kite-flyers (exclusively through mimes) increased tension at times whilst loosening up the atmosphere in a playful conflict at others. That being said, Kattam Katti lacked complexity and felt a little repetitive at times, with one echoing move after another. However, one could argue that this reflects the very beauty of the simplicity of Uttarayan. After all, millions travel far, prepare and gather with the main goal of flying a kite all day and night.

Kattam Katti was an immersive experience and it was mesmerising to watch, regardless of your origin or culture. The total running time of one hour was short enough to leave the audience hungry for more, whilst long enough to showcase and retain its magic.

Photo credit: Souvid Datta


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