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Contagion is co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.

Contagion commemorates the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which killed more people than the First World War itself. The piece is inspired by the nature and spread of the flu virus, the unseen enemy that mankind was battling within, while engaging in more conventional warfare in the world outside. The striking work of the Austrian artist Egon Schiele, who fell victim to the Spanish flu, forms a visual footnote to the piece.

Set to an atmospheric soundscape, this dance installation with digital visuals echoes the scientific features of a virus – rapid, random and constantly shape-shifting. Eight female dancers contort and mutate as they explore both the resilience and the vulnerability of the human body.

This is a standing performance presented in unusual venues, many with connections to the First World War.

The work will be accompanied by an innovative learning programme, bringing the public closer to a subject that remains relevant today.

Suitable for ages 12+

Gymnasium Gallery, Berwick-Upon-Tweed
15 – 16 September
The Great Hall, Winchester
22 – 23 September
Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich
5 October
St Gabriel’s Church Hall, Sunderland
18 – 19 October
Manchester Science Festival
21 October
British Library, London
2 – 3 November
On sale to members 3 Sept, general public 10 Sept

Creative Team

Shobana Jeyasingh / Concept, Choreography & Direction Merle Hensel / Set & Costume Design Yaron Abulafia / Lighting Design Nina Dunn / Video Design Graeme Miller / Composer


Avatâra Ayuso Catarina Carvalho Vânia Doutel Vaz Sunbee Han Noora Kela Rachel Maybank Estela Merlos Emily Pottage


Design by Spy Studio. Original photo by Chris Nash.

Research and development photography and footage taken at Studio Wayne McGregor

Digital partner Flying Object

Contagion is co-commissioned by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance and 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, with support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and from the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

Supported by The Deborah Loeb Brice Donor Advised Fund at CAF America, Garcia Family Foundation, Dr Michael and Anna Brynberg Charitable Foundation, The Mila Charitable Organisation, Oak Foundation, Wellcome and our Creative Circle supporters.

Research and development photos taken by Foteini Christofilopoulou

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