Close nav

Archive for the ‘Explore’ Category

Going Viral podcast

Posted on: July 20th, 2018 by sjdEditor

“The name ‘Spanish Flu’ stuck as a historical mistake set in stone.”

Shobana was interviewed for Going Viral: The Mother of all Pandemics podcast. Listen here to episode 5 and find out about the global impacts of the flu. 

The disease detectives investigate the global ramifications of the Spanish flu pandemic and discover places far removed from the European theatre of war, where the Spanish flu has left its trace. Presented by Mark Honigsbaum @honigsbaum and Hannah Mawdsley @HannahMawdsley

Shobana, along with writer Laura Spinney and virology expert Prof. John Oxford (both of whom have contributed to Contagion research), feature in this podcast along with others who have uncovered the sounds, rituals and first-hand accounts of the Spanish Flu from around the world.

Going Viral is also available on iTunes and other podcast apps.


Residency at Goodrich Primary School

Posted on: July 12th, 2018 by sjdEditor

‘It was so lovely for the children to try something new and with a real expert’ Class Teacher

In November 2017, we started a year-long residency at Goodrich Community Primary School in Southwark, working weekly with 150 pupils from year 1 (5-6 year olds) to year 6 (10-11 year olds).

Most Wednesdays, pupils took part in a one hour dance workshop with one of our company dancers, Noora, Andre or Wayne and explored contemporary dance and choreography. Together, they created movement and dances which were presented to other school groups and parents at the end of the year. The after-school dance club also performed their own piece. After the performance each pupil received a certificate to show they had taken part.

We’ve had a great time at Goodrich School and looking forward to other school residencies already programmed for 2018/19. If you would like to discuss a residency, project or workshop, get in touch

Photos by Foteini Christofilopoulou

Introducing the Contagion cast

Posted on: July 10th, 2018 by sjdEditor

Seeing as we’re now in the rehearsal period for Contagion, we thought we should introduce the dancers!

As pictured above, welcome to Catarina Carvalho, Emily Pottage, Estela Merlos, Rachel Maybank and Vânia Doutel Vaz. You’ll recognise a few faces who’ve performed with us before; Avatâra Ayuso, Noora Kela and Sunbee Han.

The tour starts on 15 September in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, full tour dates here >

Material Men redux at Tanzmesse

Posted on: July 6th, 2018 by sjdEditor

We’re heading to Düsseldorf for Tanzmesse international dance conference at the end of the summer.

We’re performing Material Men redux with Sooraj Subramaniam and Shailesh Bahoran.

Find us at Booth 106 at the conference or come to the performance on Sat 1 Sep, 6pm at the FFT Junta Theatre.

Dancing in small spaces…

Posted on: July 5th, 2018 by sjdEditor

We spent three high-intensity days in research and development at the beginning of July 2018, exploring the challenges of dancing in an industrial space. Dancers Vidya Patel and Eva Escrich González were joined by musicians Nao Masuda and Bernard Schimpelsberger to develop choreography and sound for a forthcoming work by artistic director Shobana Jeyasingh.

Southbank Centre’s Plant Room presented unusual physical opportunities and tests, not least the imposing machinery that fills the space, limiting movements but also acting as the setting for a juxtaposition of metal and skin.

Percussion and drums were used to emphasise the huge, humming equipment, recorded and looped to produce an atmospheric soundscape. Bernard’s drumming emphasised Vidya’s kathak-influenced movement beautifully.

The contrast between Vidya and Eva’s dance styles was mirrored by the machinery, which separated the space and created a series of spaces to frame the movement.

Contagion tour announced

Posted on: May 21st, 2018 by sjdEditor

This autumn Shobana’s latest dance work Contagion tours to six science, art and war-related sites across the country. The tour opens on 15 and 16 September at the Gymnasium Gallery in Berwick-upon-Tweed, a former army barracks where soldiers were sent to keep fit during the First World War.

Contagion commemorates the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic – which ravaged the world to a greater degree than the Great War itself. It is co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, and supported by Wellcome.

A promenade piece, Contagion considers the irony that, while human warfare raged in the trenches, a silent and far deadlier enemy was waging war within the human body itself. Shobana’s choreography echoes the scientific features of a virus – rapid, random, constantly shape-shifting – where eight female dancers contort, strategise and mutate as they explore both the resilience and the vulnerability of the human body.

The extraordinary work of artist Egon Schiele, himself a victim of the pandemic, is a powerful footnote to the choreography. His depiction of twisted bodies and expressive lines perfectly captures the physical and pychological anxieties of his times

In 1918 a Spanish flu pandemic infected one third of the world’s population and killed over 50 million people. Directly exacerbated by troop and civilian migrations from the First World War, the virus killed more people than the war itself.

Shobana Jeyasingh says: “The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic whose centenary is marked this year is beginning to assert itself in our collective memory as one of the most dramatic episodes of global proportions.  I very much hope that Contagion will serve as an act of commemoration and remembering.”

Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said: “We are proud to commission Contagion as a highlight of our final 14-18 NOW season, in which we continue to engage people in the centenary of the First World War through the lens of art. Shobana Jeyasingh’s new work marks 100 years since one of the deadliest disasters in human history with a powerful exploration of the 1918 pandemic through movement.

The research for Contagion involved virologists such as Professor John Oxford, Emeritus Professor of virology at the University of London, whose work on the 1918 Spanish flu is world renowned, as well as medical historians and writers including Laura Spinney.

For Contagion, Shobana Jeyasingh has collaborated with designers Merle Hensel (set and costume), Yaron Abulafia (lighting) and Nina Dunn (video design) and composer Graeme Miller. The dancers are Avâtara Ayuso, Catarina Carvalho, Emily Pottage, Estela Merlos, Noora Kela, Rachel Maybank, Sunbee Han and Vânia Doutel Vaz.


Saturday 15 September 1pm, 3.30pm, 6.30pm
Sunday 16 September 1pm, 3.30pm
Gymnasium Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed
Free but ticketed

Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 September 12pm, 2.30pm, 6pm
Winchester Great Hall
Contagion is included in the entry fee to Winchester Great Hall – £3 for adults, £2 for children under-16

Friday 5 October 7.30pm
Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich
Tickets from £12, £9 concessions

Thursday 18 & Friday 19 October 10.30am, 2pm and 6pm
St Gabriel’s Church, Sunderland
Free but ticketed

Sunday 21 October, times tbc
Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, part of Manchester Science Festival

Friday 2 November 6.30pm, 9pm (talk at 7.30pm)
Saturday 3 November 6pm, 8.30pm (talk at 7pm)
British Library ­as part of Late at the Library
£12 performance only and £15 performance and talk
(on sale date TBC)

Concrete Dreams Weekend at Southbank Centre

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by sjdEditor

Our first public performances as Associate Company at the Southbank Centre took place as part of their Concrete Dreams Weekend on 28 & 29 April.

Concrete Dreams Weekend was a celebration of the rich and varied history of the Southbank’s 1960s buildings, offering encounters with its past while looking towards its future.

Over three days, the halls and foyers of Queen Elizabeth Hall showcase music, dance and literature linked to the site’s 50-year history. As member’s of their artistic family we have been invited to perform.

In a series of dynamic pop up duets, company dancers Sunbee Han and Jack Thomson presented short excerpts to an enthusiastic and intergenerational crowd.

Shobana Jeyasingh Dance is an Associate Company of the Southbank Centre.

Choreographic influences behind Contagion

Posted on: March 19th, 2018 by sjdEditor

One of the choreographic influences behind Contagion is the virus, with interesting architecture, dynamics and behaviour. From a purely scientific perspective it is capable of rapid, random mutations and is very agile and adaptive. All of which have obvious symmetries to dance movement.

The work of Egon Schiele provides a visual footnote to the prodution. Based in Vienna his work reflected early understandings of neuroscience and psychology through twisted anatomical body shapes, expressive lines and sickly colouring presaging war. Schiele’s vision of the vulnerable human body thematically suggests both war and the rapid spread of disease. On 31 October 1918 at the age of 28 Schiele died of Spanish flu, three days after his pregnant wife.

Addressed through film, text and movement, the aesthetic of the entire piece is influenced by the historical time, events and civil response to the flu.


Only Artists – Shobana chats with fashion designer Hussein Chalayan

Posted on: March 19th, 2018 by sjdEditor

Only Artists from BBC Radio 4 brings two artists together to talk about their creative work. The agenda is theirs, the conversation is free-flowing, and there is no presenter. The title derives from the art historian EH Gombrich, who began his highly influential book The Story of Art with the famous line “There really is no such thing as art. There are only artists”. 

This episode will be broadcast Wednesday 21 March at 9am >

Hussein has twice won the Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards, and was awarded the MBE in 2006. He was born in Cyprus and moved to Britain with his family when he was 8. From his first graduation collection which he left to decompose buried in his back garden to a coffee table which transforms into a skirt and remote-control dresses, Chalayan is known for his highly creative designs, worn by the likes of Bjork and Lady Gaga. He has made films, had his work shown in galleries and directed and designed a dance piece, Gravity Fatigue, at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

Shobana presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the WOW Women in Creative Industries Awards

Posted on: March 7th, 2018 by sjdEditor

2018 has been a year of big announcements for us so far and March continues the trend. Shobana has collected a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Southbank Centre as part of the WOW Women in Creative Industries Awards.

Here’s Shobana’s acceptance speech:

‘As a woman and of Indian origin you soon find that no matter how hard you swim in the main ‘stream’, progress is slow. The reason is that there is a dark undertow that pulls you back. The undertow is made up of a thousand small acts of attrition often by people who are unaware of what they are doing. Acts such as a lack of trust and belief, by a refusal to give credibility, to take a risk on work when it’s needed. Sometimes these acts of attrition are also self-inflicted through many generations of conditioning. So as a seasoned practitioner in the fine art of upstream swimming it gives me great pleasure to accept this award on behalf of all the women, men and children who have nurtured and sustained the work of my company.’ 

Set up in 2016 by Jude Kelly CBE, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, and founder of WOW – Women of the World, the WOW Women in Creative Industries Awards recognise significant achievements made by women in the arts, tech, music, film, games, media, fashion and advertising, and celebrate the women and men progressing equality in the arts and creative industries.

Congratulations Shobana – in truly great company!

Connect with us



Join our mailing list

Sign up to our e-newsletter bringing you the latest company news and shows.

Our monthly enewsletters include information about our work, events, fundraising appeals and learning activity. We’ll also send you occasional additional emails during tour periods featuring photo galleries, articles and trailers.