Shobana Jeyasingh has been creating dynamic, fearless and enigmatic dance works for over 27 years. Born in Chennai, India, she currently lives and works in London. Her acclaimed, highly individual work has been witnessed in all kinds of venues, including theatres, outdoor and indoor sites and on film. Her work taps into both the intellectual and physical power of dance, and is rooted in her particular vision of culture and society.
Shobana’s work is often enriched by specially commissioned music composed by an array of contemporary composers — from Michael Nyman to beat-boxer Shlomo. Her eclectic band of creative collaborators have included filmmakers, mathematicians, digital designers, writers, animators, as well as lighting and set designers.
Lavishly honoured and awarded, Shobana has also made a significant contribution to dance in the UK and internationally through her published writings, papers, panel presentations and broadcast interviews.
As one of Britain’s most innovative and celebrated composers, Michael Nyman’s work encompasses operas and string quartets, film soundtracks and orchestral concertos. Far more than merely a composer, he’s also a performer, conductor, bandleader, pianist, author, musicologist and now a photographer and film-maker. Although he’s far too modest to allow the description ‘Renaissance Man’, his restless creativity and multi-faceted art has made him one of the most fascinating and influential cultural icons of our times.
At this stage of a long and notable career, he might forgivably have been content to rest on his considerable laurels. Yet instead of looking back on a lifetime of achievement that ranges from his award-winning score for the film The Piano to the acclaimed opera The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, via a string of high-profile collaborations with everyone from Sir Harrison Birtwistle to Damon Albarn, he’s still looking forward – pushing the boundaries of his art with a diverse and prolific burst of creativity as energetic and challenging as any new and iconoclastic young kid on the block.
Ursula Bombshell studied fashion design at St. Martins School of Art, London (BA Hons) before heading off to work in Paris. On her return to London she set up her own fashion label, which led to costume design for contemporary dance. She has worked on several productions with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance.
Lucy Carter has worked on many dance productions with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, and is a long-term collaborator with choreographer Wayne McGregor. In 2008 she won the Knight of Illumination Award for Dance for her involvement in McGregor’s choreography Chroma.
Kamala Devam is a multi-lingual dance artist, choreographing, performing and teaching in the United Kingdom and United States. Kamala grew up training in Bharata Natyam in California with Katherine and K.P. Kunhiraman and received her degree in contemporary dance at San Francisco State University. In the UK, Kamala has toured internationally for 8 years with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, performed for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony with Akram Khan Company and worked with many independent choreographers, including Jose Agudo and Luca Silvestrini. She has collaborated with choreographer/dancer Seeta Patel on their multi award-winning dance film The Art of Defining Me (2013) and toured their duet works and her solo Fretless throughout the UK and US. Kamala is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of East London and an internationally commissioned choreographer for university and youth dance companies. She formed Kamala Devam Company in 2016, supported by the Arts Council England.
A sonic artist and composer, and member of the People Show theatre, Fred learnt his trade in Paris as a recording engineer, moving to England to become the personal recording engineer of the Eurhythmics.
Through his career he has mixed and recorded albums for the likes of Bob Dylan, The Prodigy, Depeche mode, Tom Petty, David Gray and many more. He has sound designed for theatrical experiences created by Punchdrunk, Burberry, Tods and Philipp Plein fashion shows in Paris, London and Milan. Fred has also composed music for choreographer Garance Marneur, on behalf of Levy Dance in San Francisco, for Alone Together and Pull Me Closer part of the SF International Art Festival 2017.
Touring as a live sound engineer, his broad client base includes choreographer Lee Anderson, Patti Smith, and the KLF Welcome to the Dark Ages. Fred has worked with Shobana Jeyasingh for the past eight years.
Rathimalar Govindarajoo, Malaysia’s leading dancer, specialises in Odissi, Bharata Natyam and contemporary dance. Rathi, a principal dancer with Sutra Dance Theatre partnered Ramli Ibrahim (AD of SDT) in numerous productions. She has performed in SJD’s earlier works from 2002 to 2006 – Phantasmaton & [h]Interland (2002/3), Transtep (2004), Flicker & Transtep 2 (2005) and Exit No Exit (2006) – and has toured extensively throughout Britain and Europe, performing these works, returning to SJD in 2011 for Configurations.
Rathi has received Marie Claire’s Women of Style & Substance Award (2011) and she was named Watson’s Extraordinary Woman in 2013. She is also an established choreographer; she was nominated for best choreography at the 2009 BOH Cameronian Arts Award, and her work Panjara (2012) has also received wide praise. She now works on a freelance basis, while also choreographing, teaching and conducting rehearsals at Sutra Foundation Malaysia.
Yunus is from Batu Pahat, Johor, Malaysia and obtained his Bachelor of Dance with Honours from ASWARA in 2010. He majored in Bharata Natyam and was awarded the title of Best Dance Graduate. His achievements include winning the BOH Cameronion Arts Award for Most Promising Artist in 2009, reaching the final six in the Malaysian tv show, So You Think You Can Dance? and winning The Selangor Young Talent Award Grand Jury Prize in 2011.
On the international platform, he has danced in The Legend: The Journey Begins with Maya Dance Theatre in Singapore and at festivals in England, China, Hong Kong, USA, India, Thailand and Australia. He has participated in the Kennedy Arts Centre Exchange program in New York and Philadelphia and is a full-time lecturer at the Faculty of Dance at ASWARA.
Mohammad Khairi Mokthar was born and raised in Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. In 2013, he graduated from ASWARA with a Bachelor of Dance with Honours. He also obtained a Diploma in Dance from ASWARA in 2010.
Khairi works as a principal dancer with ASWARA Dance Company and is supported by the Sime Darby Foundation. With the company, he has toured the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia and has performed with local and international choreographers. Most notably, he has worked with German choreographer Riki Von Falken in Echo II, a full-length contemporary work, and on ballet productions of Cinderella, Don Quixote and The White Bat by Jie Choong Wan Chin with Ena Ballet Studio Japan and Danceworks Production. Khairi is a talented actor, performing in Makyung (traditional Malaysian dance-drama), Bangsawan (traditional Malaysian opera) and musical theatre productions.
Khairi was the first ASWARA graduate to work with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance in Classic Cut, touring the United Kingdom and Europe in 2012-2013. On 14th September 2013, he completed his Bharatanatyam Solo Debut under the guidance of the Temple of Fine Arts.
Sooraj Subramaniam began training at the Sutra Dance Theatre, Malaysia, in Bharatanatyam, Odissi, classical ballet and contemporary dance forms. He graduated with an Advanced Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance) from the Western Australian Academy for Performing Arts.
Since 2007 Sooraj has been working in the United Kingdom, principally with Srishti – Nina Rajarani Dance Creations, and also with Akademi, Balbir Singh Dance Company and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, performing across the UK and Europe. Currently he lives in Belgium and works as a freelancer.
String Quartet No. 2 by Michael Nyman by arrangement with Chester Music Ltd on behalf of Michael Nyman Ltd
Photos by Chris Nash