“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
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.
Photo by Simon Richardson
String Quartet No. 2 by Michael Nyman by arrangement with Chester Music Ltd on behalf of Michael Nyman Ltd
Photos by Chris Nash
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