Dancer in the dark. The flash would fire every 20 seconds. The lens of the camera would stay open in between the bursts of light, capturing the traces from the dancer's bangles.

It's a simple format, which has led to Vinita Agarwal's beautiful and complex images.

On show at Mayfair's Nehru Centre for one night only, accompanied by a live Kathak dance by Indrani Datta (main picture), this is a fleeting occasion not to be missed.

"The idea began because I have an interest in the different ways Indian people retain their culture in the UK," says the Rajasthani-born 26-year-old (above).

"I put up notices all over town, and got a response from the Bhavan Institute for Indian Art an Culture in West Kensington."

It was here that she met Indrani, on whom she based her final project as a postgraduate at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design last year.

The ambition was to combine anthropology, documentary and art, while pushing the boundaries of photography.

"Time-sequence photos were something I'd never done before," Vinita says.

"Many of the techniques, such as creating the light effect of the dancer's hands, came together at the last minute."

It was while sifting through piles of old jewellery in Camden Market that Vinita found the finishing touch – plastic bangles with built-in lights.

Thanks to the friendship which has grown with Indrani, Vinita has also come to admire Kathak, a north Indian dance more than 1,000 years old.

"Visually it's mesmerising and its history is vast," she says. "It was used primarily for story-telling up until British rule, but now it's more an abstract exploration of rhythm and movement."

Eye contact and powerful steps are key to the dance, and Indrani will perform a specially-choreographed piece for the show.

Flamenco, the fiery Spanish dance, is believed to be an early off-shoot of Kathak, practiced by a group of gypsies who left northern India between 800-900 AD.

Much might have changed throughout the ages, but the passion persists.

Rhythm and Light in Indian Dance: Photographs by Vinita Agarwal, followed by Indrani Datta's specially choreographed Kathak dance, is at the Nehru Centre, 8 South Audley Street, Mayfair, Monday, July 14. Free. Exhibit 6.15-8.30pm, dance 6.45-7.45. Call 020 7491 3567. See

The Bhavan Institute for Indian Art and Culture is on Castletown Road, West Kensington. Call 020 7381 3086. See