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Soldiers Of The Empire: Annapurna Indian Dance At Settle Stories
Steve Whitaker, Literary Correspondent
A Sikh Solider of the Empire
Dance, in its exhilarating but controlled sense of disinhibition, sometimes bursts forth out of the shell of imagining like an idea desperate to be born. It has often been said that the lump of rough stone from which Michelangelo carved his statue of ‘David’ contained the ‘imprint’ of the sublime before he raised a chisel.

A similar expression of an intense impulse, dance movement sometimes harbours the feeling of that which it describes before its exponents take to the floor.

Physical movement – the turn of a head, the outstretched hand, the deep oblation – is a form of signification, as though dance had the power to articulate meaning from the extremity of finger tip or toe. And the more profound the theme, the greater the intensity of the performance necessary to portray it.

The renowned Annapurna Indian Dance company of Halifax have picked the grandest, potentially most intractable, of subjects to draw their audiences’ attention to the real meaning of historical ‘footnotes’.

The results of a recent survey offered an unacknowledged indictment of our collective ignorance respecting the demographic breakdown of British combatants during world war one. Whilst most of us are dimly aware of trench warfare, elegiac poetry, and slaughter on an industrial scale, our tendency to evaluate only our own sacrifices has blind-sided us to the incalculable contribution made by soldiers of the British Empire towards military success in the various theatres of war.

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But the fact remains that for the duration of the war, 1.5 million men of the Indian army served ‘king and country’, and an inordinately large number, relative to population density, were of Sikh origin.

Indeed, soldiers from the Indian subcontinent made up no fewer than one in six of the total number of the British Empire’s combatants, and 74,000 gave their lives in the process.

In this, the centenary year of the end of the conflict, Annapurna will be performing a new work of music, dance and storytelling for Settle Stories, in commemoration of the sacrifice of these ‘forgotten’ men.

In a hypnotic, skilfully-choreographed and deeply moving new approach to traditional Indian dance methods, the company will celebrate the shared legacy of these soldiers, whose memory continues to break down cultural barriers in the Britain of today.

The Annapurna Indian Dance company – ‘Soldiers of the Empire’
At the Joinery, Settle. Saturday 14th July – 7pm.
http://settlestories.org.uk/soldiersoftheempire

Soldiers Of The Empire: Annapurna Indian Dance At Settle Stories, 9th July 2018, 21:36 PM