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Archive for the ‘Explore’ Category

Avatâra Ayuso – Associate Artist

Posted on: November 20th, 2017 by sjdEditor

We’re really pleased to announce that long-time company member Avatâra Ayuso has been made an Associate Artist. Avatâra has been collaborating with Shobana for 10 years and has made an invaluable contribution to the company in that time. Congratulations and a big thank you from all the team!

My Dance DNA

Posted on: October 24th, 2017 by sjdEditor

On Monday 6 November Shobana took part in My Dance DNA, discussing her defining dance moments with BBC television and radio presenter Nikki Bedi.  The Desert Island Discs style format included a 45-minute interview with Shobana with archive video footage of iconic dance performances, followed by a Q+A.

Watch the live stream here

Reviews and audience feedback for Bayadère – The Ninth Life

Posted on: October 23rd, 2017 by sjdEditor

A big Thank You to everyone who came to Bayadère – The Ninth Life at The Lowry and Sadler’s Wells. We received a phenomenal response to our first full-length performances at both venues.


Reviews and audience feedback:

‘True to form, Jeyasingh’s take on the classical ballet fantasy La Bayadère is shot through with her innate intelligence, instinct for composition and a typically astute choice of collaborators.’  Donald Hutera, The Times

‘Intelligent, thought-provoking, immensely accomplished in its choreography, staging and dancing.’ Culture Whisper

‘An intriguing critique of imperialism, orientalism and the male gaze’ Exeunt

‘Jeyasingh’s choreography achieves heights of arresting beauty’ Bachtrack

‘All the performers are superb in the execution of their craft. It’s a bold experiment’


Really enjoyed @SJeyasinghDance fascinating take on Le Bayadere, carried out succinctly and wittily @HFulleylove1

Great to see @SJeyasinghDance’s #Bayadère9thlife @Sadlers_Wells on Weds! Breathtaking final sequence, and Avatâra Ayuso magnetic as always! @Emily_Long_Long

Technology, Ballet, Bharatanatyam, Contemporary… @SJeyasinghDance draws together an eclectic mix of styles in #Bayadere9thlife #Dance @Rachel_Elderkin

Rare footage of the company preparing for a performance

Posted on: October 12th, 2017 by sjdEditor

Filmmaker Gary Tanner filmed our dancers in the lead up to a performance at The Lowry. More trailers and interviews can be found on our YouTube channel

Newly released production photos

Posted on: October 11th, 2017 by sjdEditor

A visual treat from Act 3 of Bayadère – The Ninth Life. Photographs taken by Benedict Johnson at The Lowry.

Sooraj Subramaniam on the story and style of Bayadère – The Ninth Life

Posted on: October 2nd, 2017 by sjdEditor

We spoke to dancer Sooraj Subramaniam about what audiences can expect…


The piece has three distinct sections, can you tell us what happens in each act?

Act 1 is like a synopsis of the original La Bayadère ballet, played out via a conversation between two friends. You get a sense of how these two friends feel about La Bayadère: surprise, awe and disbelief about the culture in which the ballet was created.

In Act 2 one of these characters is absorbed into this orientalist fantasy world of 19th century Europe when westerners first encountered Indian temple dancers. That character takes on some of the layers of the temple dancers who were objectified, exoticised and fetishised.

Act 3 plays on the hybridity of how we see dance in the 21st century. In an abstract way, it exposes the cultural tropes that people were quite happy to use when talking about new or fascinating civilisations. How do they relate to our own present day cultures; are we an amalgam of all these seemingly contradictory things; do we sit with these differences comfortably; what tensions confront us? It’s a lot of questions up in the air, that’s what the final act reveals to me.

Talking Point – Dancing Times

Posted on: September 28th, 2017 by sjdEditor

No ballet made as deep an impression on me as did Petipa’s La Bayadère which I saw for the first time in the early nineties. Its impact on me was viscerally contradictory. On one hand there was much to admire in the movement and choreography. I had seen enough kitsch Bollywood dream scenes to be totally unfazed by the exotic set and the grand spectacle of the staging. However there was a constant stream of elements that pulled my attention away from the dance. At times I almost wished it were set in any other country apart from the one of my birth.


I had to double check that characters that moved with animal-like servility close to the floor with arms hanging by their sides indeed represented fakirs– spiritually-minded and disciplined ascetics (like John the Baptist perhaps) who shunned society. I quelled a deep desire to stand up and shout, “This is an insult to fakirs!” The invented gesture used as a greeting that was neither a salaam nor a namaste was equally distracting.


To an Indian any mention of a dancing Golden Idol conjures up the bronze icon of Shiva, the perfect cosmic dancer. Like everyone else in the audience I was left exhilarated by the amazing skill displayed in this virtuoso solo. However my eye kept wandering to the mudra (hand gesture) that concluded the line of the arm. The mudra in Bharatha Natyam (the dance that has its origins in the temples of South India) is a culmination of a taut energy that radiates from the torso and informs the tips of the fingers, giving them an etched, incisive quality even when they seem to project easefulness. I had to adjust my aesthetic template to fit the soft-fingered un-stretched rendering of the mudra that I saw on stage.


And what of the figure of the Bayadère herself with the very un-Indian name of Nikiya? How had a pale, willowy heroine with a pliant spine and harem pants come to represent Indian temple dancers for over 150 years? It was this question more than anything else that set me on my quest.


I wondered if a traditional dance-maker in India in 1866 would have composed a dance work set in Tunbridge Wells with a heroine named Kamala. Would their exotic “English“ Kamala have danced barefoot to the sound of drums surrounded by beautiful sets that evoked the English countryside with the silhouette of the Roman Colosseum in the background? Would all the men have worn tartan kilts in the belief that this was the national dress of the English? Would the depiction of Morris dancing have ended up looking like Flamenco?


Part of the answer to these questions lies in the fact that in 1866 the sense of cultural entitlement did not exist in India for the creation of such a dance work. It was a colonised country very much on the disadvantaged side of the cultural power balance. The power to observe, choose selectively, appropriate, and give legitimacy to one’s own perspective without anticipating challenge or debate is one of the perks of political and economic power exercised on a global scale.


Production gallery

Posted on: September 26th, 2017 by sjdEditor

We premiere the new version of Bayadère – The Ninth Life at The Lowry on Thursday 28 September, before performing at Sadler’s Wells on Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 October. We asked photographer Jane Hobson to capture production photos, below are some stunning images featuring our incredible cast of dancers.

Manipulating the Minkus score – Composer Gabriel Prokofiev talks us through the music he has created for Bayadère – The Ninth Life

Posted on: September 26th, 2017 by sjdEditor

The Ludwig Minkus score for the original La Bayadère has of course been a big influence on the music I have created for this work. In fact much has been created from a recording (provided courtesy of Capriccio Records). I have frequently used the Minkus score as an ‘electroacoustic’ sound-source and manipulated and processed it to form new musical material that is very far from the original. At other times I have allowed familiar motifs and harmonies from Minkus’s composition to emerge.

Remarkably, certain electronic time-stretching processes gave some of the Minkus music a quasi-Indian sound. I have played with Minkus’s very 19th century attempts at Indian-inspired music to bring it a more authentic flavour: further exploring the idea of how one culture perceives, and tries to imitate another.

In the first act of Bayadère – The Ninth Life my music has a very functional role – giving little digital snippets from the Minkus version, which have been distorted and corrupted as they are sent over the internet. Gradually this re-telling of La Bayadère seems to cast a spell over our protagonists and they are swept into a maelstrom of swirling Hidrabadi traffic and warped La Bayadère score, and are magically drawn into the 19th century of Minkus, Petipa and Théophile Gaultier… Music fills the theatre – with a stretched harmony from the famous Kingdom of the Shades scene – an important sonic theme of this work.


Reversing the Gaze – Karthika Naïr on the grandmother of all orientalist spectacles

Posted on: September 25th, 2017 by sjdEditor

I have long admired Shobana Jeyasingh for her structural rigour and compositional invention but more recently I discovered her approach to narrative in dance, through Material Men Redux where she took on a chapter of history as abstruse – as seemingly distant – as indentured labour. Shobana then transformed it into an immediate, riveting, and highly affecting, tale whose shadows, whose injustices, colour the lives of tens of thousands of people across the globe even today, including those of the two remarkable dancers of the duet.


So, it felt like pure serendipity that our paths should cross on Bayadère – the Ninth Life. I’ve been grappling, more than ever this year, with the many complex equations of dance and otherness. And with this piece, Shobana reverses the gaze on La Bayadère ­—one of Europe’s germinal ballets, and quite the grandmother of all orientalist spectacles. She dissects – but always with sharp good-humour – the perceptions of otherness teeming through the visuals and narrative of Marius Petipa’s masterpiece as well as through the writings that probably inspired the French-Russian choreographer and his librettist: Théophile Gautier’s 1838 chronicles of the first European tour by a troupe of Indian devadasis (female temple dancers), who took Paris by storm for a brief period.

Fittingly, this post-colonial revisiting also leads us to wonder why La Bayadère’s regressive, sometimes shockingly racist, representations like the black-face Golden Idol moment, continue to be a part of revivals by some of the world’s great ballet companies.


Karthika Naïr
Dramaturg on Bayadère – the Ninth Life

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