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The Ninth Life

Bayadère – The Ninth Life is a radical reimagining of Marius Petipa’s legendary ballet La Bayadère. More than a retelling, it searches for the roots of the bayadère temple dancer herself, and the allure she has exerted in Europe over the centuries.

The words of the celebrated French writer Théophile Gautier, who recorded his ambiguous impressions of Indian temple dancers in 1838, add to the rich mix of Gabriel Prokofiev’s specially commissioned score to form a unique and personal work.

Following its premiere at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House in 2015, this new production tours with a bold new design by the award-winning Tom Piper, who co-created the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppy installation at the Tower of London.


In Episode 1, Guardian Dance Critic Sanjoy Roy talks to Shobana and composer Michael Nyman about their collaboration on Configurations from 1989.

The Lowry, Salford
28–29 Sept 2017

Sadlers Wells Theatre, London
16–17 Oct 2017


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.

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

Bayadère – The Ninth Life
Bayadère – The Ninth Life
Bayadère – The Ninth Life
Bayadère – The Ninth Life
Bayadère – The Ninth Life
Bayadère – The Ninth Life
Bayadère – The Ninth Life
Bayadere - The Ninth Life
Bayadere - The Ninth Life

Creative Team

Shobana Jeyasingh CBE / Concept, Choreography & Direction

“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


Tom Piper / Set & Costume Design

Recent designs include: Pelléas Et Mélisande, Garsington Opera; Hay Fever, Royal Lyceum; Frankenstein and Hedda Gabler, Northern Stage; iHo, Hampstead Theatre; Harrogate, HighTide & Royal Court; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, RSC & UK Tour; Carmen La Cubana, Le Chatelet, Paris; Endgame, Lear, Hamlet, Citizens Theatre; Red Velvet, West End, Tricycle Theatre & New York; A Wolf In Snakeskin Shoes, Tricycle Theatre; The King’s Speech, Birmingham Rep, Chichester Festival Theatre & UK Tour; Orfeo, ROH.

As Associate Designer of the RSC, Tom has designed over 30 of their shows including The Histories for which he won an Olivier for best costume design.

Tom designed Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London and received an MBE for services to Theatre and First World War commemorations. Other recent exhibitions include: Dr Blighty, Nutkhut, 14-18 NOW; and Curtain Up, V&A, Lincoln Centre New York.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz

Gabriel Prokofiev / Composer

Gabriel Prokofiev is a London-based composer, producer, DJ and founder of the NONCLASSICAL record label & club-night. Composing music that both embraces and challenges western classical traditions, Gabriel has emerged at the forefront of a new approach to classical music in the UK at the beginning of the 21st century. His compositions have been performed at a diverse range of venues, from the Royal Albert Hall and Tchaikovsky Hall, through to East London night-clubs & warehouses. With performers including Daniel Hope, Vladimir Jurowski, Sascha Goetzel, Seattle Symphony, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Russian State Symphony, Copenhagen Philharmonic, and Princeton Symphony. Gabriel is published by Mute Song.

Fabiana Piccioli / Lighting Design

Fabiana Piccioli studied philosophy in Rome, graduating in 1999, while also training in ballet and contemporary dance. Between 2000 and 2001 she performed with a number of dance companies in Belgium, and in 2002 she returned to Rome for the RomaEuropa Festival where she worked as Production Manager for three years.

In 2005 she moved to London to join the Akram Khan Company as Technical Director and Lighting Designer touring with the company worldwide. Since going freelance in 2013 she has collaborated with many international artists and choreographers. In 2013 Fabiana won the Knight of Illumination Award (Best Lighting for Dance) for her work on Akram Khan’s iTMOi.

Sander Loonen / Video Design

After a four-year apprenticeship at the Rotterdamse Schouwburg in the 1990’s, Sander has developed as a true all-round technician and designer. Equally versed in lighting, sound, video and staging he fills the gap between artistic ambitions and technical feasibility. Working with international creative teams, in all aspects of live performance and installations, he has developed the ability to steer a production towards a fulfilling project. He has designed and managed lighting, video, sound and staging for a great variety of artists: Aakash Odedra, Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, English National Ballet, LA Dance Project, Boy Blue, Sarah Moeremans, Anish Kapoor, Emio Greco|PC, Aditi Mangaldas, Gregory Maqoma, Duckie, Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods, Serpentine Gallery, Productiehuis Rotterdam, Theatre de la Ville Paris, National Architectural Institute Netherlands, National Ballet of Flanders and many, many others.

Karthika Naïr / Dramaturg

French-Indian, poet-dance producer/curator, Karthika Naïr is the author of several books, including The Honey Hunter, illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet and published in English, French, German and Bangla. Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata, her reimagining of the Mahabharata in multiple voices, won the 2015 Tata Literature Live! Award for fiction and was shortlisted for the 2016 Atta Galatta Prize for Fiction. She was also the principal scriptwriter of the multiple-award-winning DESH (2011), choreographer Akram Khan’s dance solo, and its adaptation for young adult audiences, Chotto Desh (2015).

In Naïr’s résumé as a dance enabler, one finds mention of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Damien Jalet, Käfig/Mourad Merzouki, two Olivier award-winning productions (Babel(Words) and Puz/zle), Auditorium Musica per Roma, the Louvre, the Villette, the Shaolin Temple in Henan, misadventures with ninja swords and pachyderms, among others, many of which materialise in her poetry (though, hopefully, not in the retelling of the Mahabharata).

Photo by Mujib MK

Hian Ruth Voon / Rehearsal Director

Ruth has danced for Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, Will Tuckett, Fin Walker, Art of Spectra (Sweden), Union Dance, Freddie Opoku-Addaie/Jagged Antics, Aletta Collins, Stephanie Schober, Mayuri Boonham/ATMA Dance, Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Palau de les Arts (Valencia) amongst others. She has worked with choreographers including Rafael Bonachela, Henri Oguike, Alex Reynolds, Stephan Koplowitz (New York), Mavin Khoo and Michael Joseph, and performed in aerial work (bungee and harness) for The Generating Company and Robyn Simpson. Ruth was a dancer in the ROH DanceLines project under the direction of Wayne McGregor, and she also participated in ArtsCross 2013. Commercial credits include World War Z, and music videos for James Blunt and Gabby Young & Other Animals. As a teacher Ruth has taught at Greenwich Dance Agency, The Place, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, Walker Dance and Union Dance. She was rehearsal director for Shobana Jeyasingh’s TooMortal and is also a qualified Yoga teacher.

Claire Cunningham / Rehearsal Director

Claire is a rehearsal director, producer and teacher. She has restaged and assisted with creations for Clod Ensemble, Agudo Dance Company, Akram Khan Company, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Theatre-Rites, Akademi, Wayne McGregor:Random Dance, La Scala Opera House, Hélène Blackburn and Enrique Cabrera. In the last two years, Claire has produced Silk Road for Jose Agudo and Chotto Desh for Akram Khan Company. She was previously a dancer for sixteen years and continues to teach Yoga for London Contemporary Dance School and several studios and dance companies in London.

Sander Loonen / Production Manager

After a four-year apprenticeship at the Rotterdamse Schouwburg in the 1990’s, Sander has developed as a true all-round technician and designer. Equally versed in lighting, sound, video and staging he fills the gap between artistic ambitions and technical feasibility. Working with international creative teams, in all aspects of live performance and installations, he has developed the ability to steer a production towards a fulfilling project. He has designed and managed lighting, video, sound and staging for a great variety of artists: Aakash Odedra, Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, English National Ballet, LA Dance Project, Boy Blue, Sarah Moeremans, Anish Kapoor, Emio Greco|PC, Aditi Mangaldas, Gregory Maqoma, Duckie, Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods, Serpentine Gallery, Productiehuis Rotterdam, Theatre de la Ville Paris, National Architectural Institute Netherlands, National Ballet of Flanders and many, many others.

Paolo Zanin / Technical Coordinator

Paolo’s technical experience began in Venice at the age of nineteen where he spent four years in the Teatro Fondamenta Nuove. He has worked with many artists within a wide variety of artistic fields including William Forsythe, Christoph Schlingensief, Akram Khan, Paolo Sorrentino, Steve Reich, Jan Fabre, Romeo Castellucci, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Bill Viola. Paolo is now coordinating the technical aspects of Dance, Music and Theatre for the Venice Biennale festivals working with Marie Chouinard, Antonio Latella and Ivan Fedele.

Fred De Faye / Sound Engineer

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.


Avatâra Ayuso

Avatâra trained in ballet (Conservatorio de Mallorca) and Linguistics (BA and MA, Universidad Complutense de Madrid) before moving to London to train at London Contemporary Dance School. In 2005, she became part of the D.A.N.C.E. programme where she worked and performed internationally under the artistic direction of William Forsythe, Wayne McGregor, Frédéric Flamand and Angelin Preljocaj. In 2008, she obtained a Masters in Professional Dance from Palucca Schule Dresden. As a choreographer, she has presented work internationally in Europe, Africa and Asia. Over the years, Avatâra has received several awards and grants to develop her skills as a dance researcher and cultural leader (completing studies with the Open University UK and the prestigious Clore Leadership Programme Emerging Leaders). She is Associate Artist of the European Centre for the Arts Hellerau Dresden and her AVA Dance Company Associate of The Creative Academy Slough. She was nominated for the 2015 UK National Dance Awards. Since 2007, Avatâra has collaborated regularly with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance.

Carmine De Amicis

Carmine De Amicis is a London based performer and choreographer as well as an associate lecturer at the University of Chichester. He joined Shobana Jeyasingh Dance in 2017 for the production Bayadère – The Ninth Life and has previously worked with Tavaziva Dance Company, José Agudo-Akademi, Watkins Dance Company, Lynne Hockney & Lucy Burge (Grange Park Opera), Chantry Dance Company, Salvatore Spagnolo. He has also performed pieces by Kerry Nicholls, Gary Clarke, Yael Flexer, Hagit Bar and Liz Aggiss.

In 2015, alongside Co-Director Harriet Waghorn, Carmine founded EDIFICE Dance Theatre whose choreography combines Ballroom and Latin American technique with Contact and Contemporary Dance.

He trained at the Italian National Academy of Dance in Rome and then joined the postgraduate dance company MAPDANCE at the University of Chichester where he gained a distinction in his Masters Degree. He is also a professional Ballroom and Latin American Dancer.

Photo by Ellen Yilma

Fabio Dolce

Fabio Dolce was born in Palermo on 1985. He started dancing at 11 years old with ballroom dances. At 16 years old he started ballet and contemporary dance at the “Teatro Massimo di Palermo” where he joins the company at 18 years old. One year later he decided to go to Rome to go deeper in dance studies at the National academy of dance and he joins at the same time the Astra Roma Ballet company.

A year later he is hired at the Cannes Jeune Ballet in France where he works for Monique Loudières for two years. At 21 years old he joins the national company CCN ballet de Lorraine based in Nancy where he worked for nine years works by Forsythe, Tharp, Cunningham, Manuel Gat, Itamar Serussi, Mathilde Monnier … and many others. At 30 years old he decides to leave the company to start again a freelancer life and he moves to London where he danced for De Nada Dance Theatre and started to offer his own choreographic work in England and in France.

Sunbee Han

Sunbee was born in Seoul, South Korea, where she obtained a BA and MA in Dance & Dance Film from Han Yang University’s Arts Faculty. In 2009, she also won the gold medal at the Dong-A National Dance Competition – the most prestigious dance prize in South Korea. From 2007 to 2010, Sunbee danced with Garimda Dance Company in Seoul and in 2011 she joined the London-based Henri Oguike Dance Company, receiving critical acclaim for her first performances in the UK in Oguike’s V4.

In February 2014, Sunbee was featured as Dancer of the Month in Dancing Times, which was the first major interview of a Korean dancer in this magazine.

Sunbee joined Shobana Jeyasingh Dance for Strange Blooms in 2013.

Bryony Harrison

Bryony was born in Hull and started dancing at The LWHS School of Dance. At 16, she decided to further her training at The Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. She had the privilege of working with choreographers such as Ross McKim, Mark Baldwin, Kerry Nicholls, Antonia Franceschi, Lynne page and Charlotte Edmonds and to have performed on stages such as The Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and the Barbican. In her final year, she performed alongside Rambert company on three different occasions in works choreographed by Mark Baldwin for Dance Power and Garsington Opera and in Itzik Galili’s A Linha Curva.

After Graduating in July 2016 with a 1st Class BA(Hons), Bryony joined The Ballet National de Marseille’s ‘BNMNEXT’ under the direction of Emio Greco & Pieter C. Sholten, rehearsing and performing alongside the company for the 2016/2017 season.

Andre Kamienski

Andre came to London in 2010, after 12 years of Ballroom and Latin-American dance training in Poland. He began his adventure with contemporary dance at CAT Scheme at The Place and various youth dance companies. He graduated from London Studio Centre in 2015, where he performed works by José Agudo and Henri Oguike. Andre took part in AKX programme for Akram Khan Company in 2015, and is currently working as a freelance dance artist.

Noora Kela

Noora was born in Finland, Helsinki. She started dancing at the age of 13. She went into full time dance training after she was granted a place at the Sibelius High School for music and dance in Helsinki (1997-2000). During this time she also worked for the Finnish National Theatre assisting on various plays and musicals. She graduated in 2003 from The London Contemporary Dance School with First Class Honours. Since then Noora has worked with Jan De Schynkel, David Bolger, Nigel Steward, Hubert Essakow, Fernando Magadan of NDT, and Tanja Raman. She also worked with the Henri Oguike Dance Company for four years, touring nationally and internationally. She joined Shobana Jeyasingh Dance in 2009. She has also worked with the ENO on two of their productions and been part of a few commercial videos.

Ingvild Krogstad

Ingvild is a Norwegian dance artist currently based in Oslo. She graduated from London Studio Centre in 2015 with a First Class Honours degree in contemporary dance. She was part of Intoto Dance Company in her final year, and during this time, she performed in works by Henri Oguike, John Ross and José Agudo.

In January and February 2017, Ingvild danced the leading role “Leila” in Les Pêcheurs de Perles at the Opera House in Kristiansund. She has worked as a rehearsal assistant at the Norwegian Opera and Ballet’s project På Tå Hev, and choreographed for Dancarte 2017 | Faro, Portugal. She teaches and choreographs regularly at the Norwegian Ballet Academy. During the last year, Ingvild has worked with choreographers such as Toni Herlofson, Ann-Terese Aasen and Luke Brown. Ingvild greatly values diversity in her work, and has worked with many Norwegian artists, worked as a dance model and featured in several dance short films.

Photo by Daniel Bayle

Sooraj Subramaniam

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.

Photo by Simon Richardson

Jack Thomson

Jack is a London based dancer, photographer, choreographer and film maker. After training at Rambert School, Jack went onto to dance for Phoenix Dance Theatre performing choreography by Itzik Galli, Caroline Finn and Sharon Watson among others.

In addition to this he was a feature dancer in ENO’s award winning opera The Indian Queen (2015) choreographed by New York based Christopher Williams. Jack was also an original dancer in Mark Baldwins’ Inala (2014 – 2015), featuring Lady Smith Black Mambazo which he performed national, internationally and for the Royal family at the 2014 Royal Variety Performance. Most recently he danced in the 16th revival of the Royal Opera House’s Turandot (2017) choreographed by Kate Flatt.

Jack joined Shobana Jeyasingh Dance for the revival of Strange Blooms in 2015 and is excited to perform in Bayadère – The Ninth Life.

Adi Chugh / Actor

Adi Chugh trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (BOVTS), LAMDA, NYC Acting School and Pennsylvania State University.

Screen roles include: Ronnie – Three Dots and A Dash (feature film, UK), Mohammed – Oksijan (short film, UK), and Boss – Pool Sharks (short film, USA).

Theatre roles include: Amar – Dubailand, Finborough Theatre, London; PJ – 5 Guys Chillin’, NYC Off-Broadway, London, Edinburgh Fringe; John Thorpe – Northanger Abbey, Wickham Theatre, Bristol; The Creature – Frankenstein, John Wesley Chapel, Bristol; Silva Vicarro – 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, WITS, South Africa; Vilom – Ashadh Ka Ek Din, Hindi, New Delhi; and Pran Padpaan – Apne Fan Ka Ustad, Hindi, New Delhi.


Co-produced by Sadler’s Wells
Originally commissioned by The Royal Ballet Studio Programme in 2015
Music by Gabriel Prokofiev, performed by arrangement with Mute Song Ltd, London
Gautier’s Voice Benedict Lloyd-Hughes
Shobana Jeyasingh Dance is supported by Studio Wayne McGregor through the FreeSpace programme
Developed with support from The Point
Lead image by Chris Nash
Production photos by Jane Hobson

Generously supported by The Deborah Loeb Brice Donor Advised Fund at CAF America, Garcia Family Foundation, Dr Michael and Anna Brynberg Charitable Foundation, and Oak Foundation. Shobana Jeyasingh Dance would also like to thank all our other important donors, whose support is credited here.

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