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Archive for the ‘Explore’ Category

New website, new brand

Posted on: August 8th, 2017 by sjAdmin

As a company we are renowned for pushing the possibilities of dance beyond traditional storytelling. To that end and coinciding with the launch of our new website, we worked with design practice Spy Studio to create a refreshing brand that really reflected who we are and what we stand for. A bold statement that sets us apart from other companies and inspires our audiences both now and in the future.

Our brand identity is inspired by motion, tension, and the use of space. The simple individual shapes within the logo work together, echoing activity and gesture. Integrated into our visual language is a dynamic ‘line’ component that emphasises any direction of movement. Inspired by the integrity and research behind Shobana’s works, it communicates an analytical sensibility.

We use colour sparingly and a neutral typeface, so that our performance is always the hero. Our brand is active, and builds on the narrative within the works. Confident, elegant, precise and distinctive. All words that are equally applicable to Shobana’s body of work.

Tom Piper Designer Bayadère – The Ninth Life

Posted on: July 30th, 2017 by sjAdmin

The main challenge has been how to critique the visual traditions of established ballet La Bayadère in a witty and meaningful way without undermining the dancers. We want to look at the objectification of the original bayadère dancers and how they were fetishised by Victorian male society. Their appearance was sensually compared to animals and we needed to find a way to express this visually with a sense of irony or parody.

Many of the early ideas revolved around depicting cabinets of curiosities of gentlemen collectors in which all of the exotic objects required in the ballet could be displayed alongside the costume of the bayadère. We also looked at how Orientalist tropes such as stuffed parrots and peacocks might also be used to heighten the parody of a European view of what is different, mysterious and worthy of collecting.

The early versions of this idea were too constricting to the rest of the piece, Shobana’s version of the Kingdom of the Shades in the final section and the first section in which a contemporary Indian man is confronted, via social media, with the absurdity of La Bayadère in the modern world, both required a freer setting. So I began to explore how framing and enclosure could be used at a more subliminal level to highlight the intensity of gaze on the figure that the piece requires from the viewer.

We begin with a single projection screen that allows us an insight into how modern communications occur, as ideas about the traditional ballet bounce back and forth between a man in India and one in the UK. Visions of the dancers on the screen merge with real dancers behind the screen who then enter the main playing space, confronting the audience with distilled iconic fragments of the original ballet.

At the moment we are now imagining the centre section of the piece to take place beneath a chaotic explosion of cables and lights, half contemporary India, half exotic jewel light installation, with a series of golden mobile frames beneath, which the dancers can move to define space, frame figures and create a dialogue between the chorus of dancers and the bayadère figure they both idolise and reject.

I see my role as offering new versions of the visual landscape of the piece which will chime with, but also challenge the existing choreography and create a world in which the dancers fully interact with the physical elements of the work rather than the design existing as a disconnected backdrop to the action of the dance.

Tom Piper 2017©

Company of Elders, Sadler’s Wells Elixir Festival 2017

Posted on: June 7th, 2017 by sjAdmin

Company of Elders is Sadler’s Wells Creative Learning department’s resident over 60s performance company. In March and April 2017, two company dancers introduced Shobana’s choreographic style to the group through informal workshop sessions.

In June, as part of Sadler’s Wells Elixir Festival 2017, the Company of Elders performed Here, a specially commissioned eight-minute piece, by Shobana who was assisted by Avatâra Ayuso.

“Here celebrates the sheer presence of the unique dancers who make up the Company of Elders. Their execution of movement is enhanced and made deeper by the richness of connected experience as well as the individuality of each person. The “meaning” of the dance work, for me, is very much about the joyful fact that they are here and in constant engagement with the new and the unknown.” Shobana Jeyasingh

Choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh
Rehearsal Director Avatâra Ayuso
Music Shaker Loops (First Movement Extract) composed by John Adams, performed by The San Francisco Symphony
Sound Design and Remix Fred De Faye
Lighting Designer Adam Carrée
Costume Designer Abigail Hammond
Company of Elders Rehearsal Director Simona Scotto

Photo by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance

Easter 2017 Dance Courses, The Place

Posted on: April 2nd, 2017 by sjAdmin

In April 2017, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance ran the Easter residency as part of  The Place’s Easter Dance Courses offering participants at The Place a fascinating insight into the company’s dance style and unique choreographic process. Led by company dancers Avatâra Ayuso, Estela Merlos and Wayne Parsons, over 40 adults (level 2 and 3) and young people (aged 12 – 16) took part in these intensive three-day residencies.

Photo by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance

Sampled, Sadler’s Wells and The Lowry

Posted on: February 1st, 2017 by sjAdmin

In Spring 2017, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance performed a 10-minute excerpt from Bayadère – The Ninth Life as part of Sampled at Sadler’s Wells on 3 – 4 February, and The Lowry on 24 – 25 February 2017. Sampled is an ever popular programme that gives a chance for dance fans and newcomers alike to enjoy a diverse range of styles from some of the world’s finest choreographers and dancers.

Creative Team
Concept, Choreography & Direction  Shobana Jeyasingh
Composer  Gabriel Prokofiev
Lighting Designer  Fabiana Piccioli
Lighting Realiser  Lucy Record
Original Costume Design  Adam Wiltshire
Set and Costume Design 2017  Tom Piper
Rehearsal Director  Elisabetta d’Aloia
Gautier’s Voice  Benedict Lloyd-Hughes
Dramaturgy  Richard Twyman

Luke Crook
Nathan Goodman
Marta Greco
Andre Kamienski
Noora Kela
Estela Merlos
Teerachai Thobumrung

Bayadère – The Ninth Life. was originally commissioned by The Royal Ballet Studio Programme in 2015.

Photo by Chris Nash

BBC Radio 3 – Free Thinking

Posted on: January 15th, 2017 by sjAdmin

In this interview, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking on 25 January 2017, Anne McElvoy and Shobana discuss how the history of indentured labour has influenced Material Men redux.

Listen on the BBC website

Shobana is on between 24:41 – 35:25, following the excerpt of the Material Men redux score.

Photo by Chris Nash

Blog by Simon Daw, Material Men redux

Posted on: January 15th, 2017 by sjAdmin

Simon Daw
Set, Costume & Video Designer for Material Men redux

Spring 2015
I was in the middle of an intense research period on another project when Shobana rang out of the blue to talk about costume and set design for Material Men, the first incarnation of Material Men redux. At that point the key information was that Elena (Kats-Chernin) was writing the music and that there were two very different dancers and dance styles. I’d done quite a lot of design for contemporary dance and ballet but never worked with classical Indian dance or hip hop. I was intrigued.

Summer 2015
I like designing for new dance works as in my experience all aspects that combine to make the final piece develop in parallel in a very organic way, informed by each other. We had a really effective research and development period in London over this summer with the composer, Shobana and the dancers working together in a rehearsal room in London. Shobana brought a sari into the studio to use as a metaphor for India and home. It became such a strong idea, almost a third dancer – even a naughty child sometimes, it was so unpredictable!
It was great for me to be in the studio, watching. The hip hop stuff that Shailesh does is so immediately impressive, the way he throws himself about, you worry he’s going to injure himself. And I was struck too by the controlled flow of Sooraj’s classical Indian dance. And how Shobana was able to get these two styles of dance to come together naturally.

Shobana and I talked about the themes of the project, the idea of movement and borders. I started collecting images of border fences, these places where some people are allowed to go through and others aren’t. And this led to the main sculptural element of the set, a line of high poles which cut across the stage.

Summer 2016
As Shobana started to explore the dancers’ personal family history we started to investigate further about the journeys undertaken by indentured labourers. After the tour of Material Men in autumn 2015, Shobana realised there was so much more to say and decided to create a full-length version – Material Men redux. Shobana wanted to use archive footage and photography to help tell the story of these people taken half way round the world to work as indentured labourers, barely one step up from slavery, and the core focus of the work became the journey from Calcutta to Suriname taken by Shailesh’s great great grandparents.

Shobana talked to me about adding video projection and film to the design and it struck me that it would be great to add video to the set itself. We set up some tests to experiment with mapping video onto the set and the Sari.

Autumn 2016
I was listening to the new version of the soundscore, where Leafcutter John has added the recorded voices of the dancers and statistical information – about the ships’ lists, who is on the list and what happened to them. It’s very moving.

I originally came from a Fine Art Photography background before moving into stage design so the use of film and image is always a very natural extension of my set and costume designs. With a design such as this one for Material Men redux, it is important to for me to keep control of set, costume in order to really focus on what is central to the piece.  We asked Jo Walton, an image researcher, to find out what images of indentured labour there were. We needed to get a sense of what was available to us. As well as the journey taken by Shailesh’s family, we wanted to look at the many different routes taken by indentured labourers from India – to South Africa, Jamaica and Malaysia as well as South America.

Jo pulled in images from all over the world. Shobana and I looked at this material and edited it down to a few key images which tell the story in a very visual way. To get a feeling of what these people went through.

Indentured labour thankfully was outlawed before the arrival of film so we only have still images from this time. I’ve intercut these with film footage from the 1920s showing workers on sugar plantations, using tiny snippets of film and repeating them again and again, showing the endless drudgery of the work.

January 2017
Shobana and I are still exploring how we use the film. One of our key conversations is about how we show the film on stage. Sometimes we will project the film onto the sari, stretched out to form a screen. At other times, more abstract images – the waves of the sea maybe – are projected onto the fence poles of the set.

It’s been a technical and compositional challenge to use these very old images. One of the things we do is to zoom gradually into the detail of the images, revealing clues to the audience.  For instance, a shot of children getting breakfast on a ship, slowly pans across their ragged clothes until eventually it discovers a child’s frightened face.

We are nearly there, making final finishing touches to the film. I’m preparing options which we’ll try with the lighting, the final music and the dancers to find out what works.

Simon Daw 2017©

Photo by Jane Hobson feature: Meet Shobana Jeyasingh

Posted on: January 9th, 2017 by sjAdmin

In this interview with, Shobana talks about her creative process and upcoming works in 2017. You can read the interview on’s website here.

Photo by JP Masclet

Material Men redux video series

Posted on: December 22nd, 2016 by sjAdmin

Material Men redux video series of short films by filmmaker Gary Tanner.

The Making Of
Taking you behind the scenes of Material Men redux. You meet the extraordinary dancers Shailesh Bahoran and Sooraj Subramaniam, and the third cast member – the sari. Shobana talks about the intriguing and poignant story of indentured labour which is central to and explored in this piece.

The Dancers
We meet Shailesh and Sooraj, rehearsing with Shobana and evolving this pioneering and powerful story through their unique styles.

The Sari
The subject of this film is often referred to as the ‘third dancer’ in the work. The traditionally patterned South Indian sari that is used in this work comes alive as a key character during Material Men redux. Shailesh and Sooraj twist, wrap and unfurl it as they dance together.

The Stories
Shobana talks about the two stories the work brings to light. The first is the journey of the dancers; how one chose hip hop, the other classical Indian dance. The second is of indentured labour and how the dancers represent both those who left India and those who stayed behind.

Getting Ready
Just prior to any performance there is a hive of activity – watch how The Smith Quartet, dancers and the production team all prepare for curtain up.

The Smith Quartet
We meet Deirdre Cooper, cello and Nic Pendlebury, viola who together with Ian Humphries, violin and Rick Koster, violin comprise the renowned and highly acclaimed Smith Quartet. Created by composer extraordinaire Elena Kats-Chernin, the score juxtaposed with Leafcutter John’s electronic music, is played live on stage, and is central to this dramatic work.

Photo by Gary Tanner

EDge, London Contemporary Dance School

Posted on: October 30th, 2016 by sjAdmin

In November 2016, Shobana and Sunbee Han worked with company dancers from EDge, London Contemporary Dance School’s postgraduate performance company, to restage our work Strange Blooms.

The restaged work toured throughout the UK and Europe between March – July 2017. For more details visit:

EDge is the postgraduate performance company of London Contemporary Dance School, offering young artists the opportunity to develop their skills as dance artists in an intensely creative environment. The members of EDge work across media and styles, offering an experience accurately reflecting the breadth of the industry and their futures within it.
For more information about EDge visit:

Photo by Alicia Clarke, London Contemporary Dance School EDge company members 2016/17

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