“When Shobana Jeyasingh is firing on all cylinders there is hardly another UK choreographer who can touch her” – The Times
Shobana Jeyasingh was born in Chennai ,India and has lived in Sri Lanka and Malaysia. She founded Shobana Jeyasingh Dance in 1989 and has created over 60 critically acclaimed works for stage, screen and out and indoor sites ranging from Palladian monasteries in Venice to contemporary fountains in London.
Shobana’s work is noted for both its intellectual rigour and its visceral physicality. It is rooted in her experience and perspective of life as a female postcolonial citizen of the world. She trained in Bharata Natyam (the classical dance of Tamil Nadu), under Vazhuvoor Samaraj Pillai and read English Literature, specialising in Shakespeare at The University of Sussex. Over the course of a distinguished career she has collaborated with scientists, curators, composers, film makers, digital creatives, dancers and designers to make dynamic multi-disciplinary work that places the body centre stage in the dialogue of ideas.
“Petipa’s La Bayadère is the ultimate orientalist fantasy. Now, 138 years – and a seismic shift in sensibility – later, Petipa’s ballet is ripe for reinvention. And there’s surely no choreographer better qualified for the task than Shobana Jeyasingh …marvellous, inspiring mesh of history, poetry and ideas” – The Guardian
Her work has toured extensively in UK, Europe, USA, Turkey, India, China Singapore and Hong Kong. A number of works form part of the National Curriculum for Dance in the UK. Notable commissions include work for Rambert, Ballet Black, Company Wayne McGregor, the Venice Biennale, Beijing Modern Dance Academy, Contemporary City Dance Company Hong Kong, and Opera National du Rhin in France. Works such as Faultline (a response to the London tube bombings) TooMortal (for historic churches) Material Men redux (on 19th century indentured labour) have been included in UK end of year best-of lists for their respective years.
“With her emotionally honest approach to choreography, she has produced more than 50 dance works that make the audience think, dream and dissent.” – The HIndu
“The choreography is dizzyingly vibrant, absolutely engrossing … While the surface is hard and aggressive the dancers are ambiguous human subtle ” – Dagens Nyheter Stockholm
Her work for theatre includes choreography for the trailblazing Tara Arts in London and Tamasha Theatre Company. She has worked in productions at the Half Moon Theatre and at The National Theatre London.
“The show is emotional, arduous, and enlightening. It’s a stunningly distressing piece, telling untold stories through sweat and exacting movement, while Jeyasingh both educates and wows through two artists who are truly mesmerising to watch. ” -Theatre Review
Shobana’s contributions to dance include writings, talks as well as presentations on numerous media platforms. She worked as researcher and scriptwriter for two pioneering programmes on British Asian Arts for Channel Four. More recently she was a judge for BBC Young Dancer in both 2017 and 2019. She has served on the panels of the Arts Council of England, Greater London Arts, London Contemporary Dance Trust and The Royal Opera House. She is patron of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing.
Shobana was a founder member and research fellow of Rescen at Middlesex University a research centre into processes, practices and contexts of performance. She was invited to take on the role of knowledge producer by the Cultural Institute at Kings College London in 2014 which led to Translocations, a series of films where choreographic narratives met a range of academic disciplines such as Informatics and Neurobiology. She was awarded a Nesta Dream Fellowship to visit China and Japan and experience their contemporary dance cultures. Shobana holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Leicester and Chichester as well as an honorary MA from the university of Surrey. She was named Asian Woman of Achievement in Art and Culture 2008. Shobana was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the WOW Women in Creative Industries Awards in 2017. In 2020 she was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).
” Jeyasingh plays elegant games with the question of how an art form can feed off its history without actually cannibalising it. Such tempering of energy with intelligence is the mark of a classic” -The Evening Standard
Nick Rothwell (aka Cassiel) is a composer, performer, software architect, coder and visual artist. He has built media performance systems for projects with Ballett Frankfurt and Vienna Volksoper, composed sound scores for Aydın Teker (Istanbul / Kapadokya), AWA Dance, Luz&Mannion Dance (Flamenco) and Undercurrent Theatre, programmed physical media sculptures with Simeon Nelson and Rob Godman, live coded in Mexico and in Berlin with sitar player Shama Rahman, collaborated with the body>data>space collective in Prague, Paris and Dresden, written software for Studio Wayne McGregor, the Pina Bausch Foundation and Nesta’s FutureFest, and developed algorithmic visuals for large-scale outdoor projections in Poland, Estonia, Cambridge Music Festival and Lumiere (London / Durham).
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.
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.
For the 2010 production:
2010 Dancers: Avatâra Ayuso, Hian Ruth Voon, Noora Kela, Agnes Lopez Rio, Anna Watkins, Emily Absalom, Gemma Bass-Williams, Alejandra Lucrecia Baño Pelegrin, Aoife McAtamney, Sofia Harryson, Malvina Tam, Mafalda Lobao Tello Lopes da Silva, Anjelina Jandolo, Rachel Birch, Effie McGuire Ward, Katie Cambridge, Peri Warren, Laura Vanhulle, Anni Martin, Lynsey Roddam, Archana Ballall, Kate Prosser, Clare Meeking, Caterina Varvalho.
Originally commissioned by Somerset House and English National Ballet as part of Big Dance 2010
Produced by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance
Photos by Richard Haughton, Robert Piwko
Supported by Arts Council England, Garfield Weston Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Idlewild Trust and Westminster Council
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