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Theatre Review: A Passage to Bollywood is a celebration of Indian Culture and a true spectacle

Navdhara India Dance Theatre’s A Passage to Bollywood was performed on Nov. 16 at the Fredericton Playhouse, and it delighted audience members from all cultural backgrounds.

The show is internationally acclaimed for its complex and colourful display, an essential part of any Bollywood performance. At only 80 minutes long, the amount of entertainment that is packed into the show is astounding.

It is the story of a village boy with dreams of moving to Mumbai, and upon his arrival to the city he begins an adventure that is exciting, comedic, passionate and gripping to the show’s audience. A classic tale of love and friendship, it is a staple of Bollywood but relatable to anyone who sees the performance.

The show is packed with high-energy, over the top drama and romance, and at every turn it keeps its audience invested in what’s happening on-stage. Each scene is an intricately crafted dance routine accompanied by singing; with sparse dialogue, the story can be interpreted through body language and action.

The dances were choreographed by Indian-Australian Ashley Lobo, the artistic director of NIDT, who also founded the Danceworx Academy. Lobo has choreographed over 30 Bollywood films and a similar amount of theatre productions, and this show is a testament to his skill and experience as a choreographer.

The show is as much a theatre performance as it is a celebration of Indian culture and the celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. This holiday represents the victory of light over darkness, and good over evil.

The performance on Thursday night was introduced by the President of the Indo-Canadian Association in Fredericton, and he expressed his delight to have Indian culture being showcased in New Brunswick, and the importance of this holiday to the Sikh and Jain communities as well.

Really, this show represents a bridge between nations and cultures that is becoming more prominent in our world today, and something New Brunswickers are welcoming with open arms. At the performance there were those of Indian descent, but also people from all backgrounds excited to experience and learn from a different culture. Indian values and traditions are presented to its audience in a format that could not possibly be more exciting, all sponsored by the department of NB Labour, Employment, and Population Growth minister, Gilles LePage.

As for the show itself, with its level of complexity it is difficult to pinpoint one wonderful aspect. As we follow the main character, we immediately experience dances with vivid images, bright colours and ornate costumes all working in tandem.

It makes it difficult for the eye to focus on one place, and to do anything but attempt to experience the sea of movement all at once. English dialogue is used in between scenes to explain the plot and add comedic effect, and whether you are a Bollywood fanatic or a curious newcomer, this show is incredible to any viewer.

A Passage to Bollywood is an internationally acclaimed performance that matches its impressive reputation. If you want to see the splendour of Indian spirituality in dance and entertainment, this is the show to see.

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