The Troth

Based on Chandradhar Sharma Guleri’s iconic Hindi short story Usne Kaha Tha, The Troth is about one soldier, Sardar Lehna Singh, and the sacrifice he makes to keep his secret promise to an unrequited love. He does so while facing the horrors of war fighting in the Belgian trenches during World War I.

This dance narrative is a tale of love, loss and sacrifice.

This dance narrative is a tale of love, loss and sacrifice inspired by film noir and the era of black and white movies choreographed by Gary Clarke and interwoven with wartime archive and recently discovered silent film footage with new subtitled films by Josh Hawkins. The performance is accompanied by a reverberating and evocative soundscape created by BASCA award-winner Shri Sriram, who laces his original composition with sounds from World War I and Indian folk music.

The cast consists of Daniel Hay-Gordon, Deepraj Singh, Dom Coffey, Songhay Toldon, Subhash Viman Gorania and Vidya Patel. They form a dynamic, powerful and touching ensemble. After a haunting introduction of rifleman scanning the horizon the troupe bursts into a colourful and energetic routine based on movements derived from traditional Indian dance that is full of passion and energy. Solos and duets unfold the intimate story in sensitive scenes of love and friendship that contrast with the noise of battle and the trauma of the trenches. Costumes by Abha Desai add colour and authenticity, while the lighting design by Charles Webber provides the mood tones that enhance tender emotions one moment and flashes in the fury of battle the next.

Akademi is a progressive dance organisation based in London that ‘aims to inspire audiences and change lives by creating and nurturing excellence in classical, contemporary, popular and participatory South Asian dance’. Troth is their tribute to over 1.3 million Indians who gave active service during the course of World War I, the largest voluntary force ever assembled. It highlights the scale of their losses but also laments individual sacrifices in a vivid portrayal of human forfeiture.

Troth is a model of multi-media production from which students of the genre could learn more in sixty minutes than from hours of lectures. For anyone who loves theatre it is a stunning spectacle not to be missed.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

A gripping story of love and loss set during World War One, blending dance, original music and archive film. Moving from rural Punjab to the Belgian trenches where young Indian men have been brought to fight for the Allies, we learn about the secret promise made by one soldier, Lehna Singh, as he makes the ultimate sacrifice to save another. Direction and choreography by Gary Clarke. Music by Shri Sriram. 'Gripping experience of a shared heritage' ***** ( 'Emotionally charged' (Stage). 'Uplifting... a welcome creative collaboration between cultures and continents' (

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