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Material Men redux

Material Men redux is a full length virtuoso piece for two dazzling performers of the Indian diaspora. Their chosen dance styles could not be more different – classical Indian and hip hop. However, they share a history rooted in the dark realities of colonial migration and plantation labour.

Material Men redux is a dynamic and moving exploration of the violence of loss and the creation of new ways of belonging, featuring a score by acclaimed Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin, recorded by The Smith Quartet. Additional sound design by Leafcutter John.


Listen to Surface Tension – the podcast from Shobana Jeyasingh Dance.
In Episode 1, Guardian Dance Critic Sanjoy Roy talks to Shobana and composer Michael Nyman about their collaboration on Configurations from 1989.

"... an occasion of breathtaking power, tenderness and grace."

The Observer

"This is the powerful face of modern dance: political, historically informed, compassionate, moving, even disturbing, and technically superb."


"Bodies start to connect, limbs intertwine in a calligraphy of mutual respect, shared virtuosity and simply outstanding dance..."

The Herald, Scotland

Watch the trailer

Creative Team

Shobana Jeyasingh / Concept, Choreography & Direction

Shobana Jeyasingh has been creating dynamic, fearless and enigmatic dance works for almost 30 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.

Photo by JP Masclet

Elena Kats-Chernin / Composer

Elena Kats-Chernin is one of the most cosmopolitan composers working today, reaching millions through her prolific catalogue of works for theatre, ballet, orchestra and chamber ensemble. Born in Tashkent, she received training at the Gnessin Musical College before immigrating to Australia. She graduated from the New South Wales Conservatory before studying in Germany where she remained for 13 years, returning to Australia in 1994. Her energetic, and often propulsive music has been choreographed by dance-makers around the world. In 2000, she collaborated with Meryl Tankard; Deep Sea Dreaming (part of the opening ceremonies of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games). In 2011, Elena was appointed Composer-in-Residence with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Her adaptation of Monteverdi’s three operas at the Komische Oper Berlin premiered in 2012, and in 2014 Frankenstein won the Sydney Theatre Award 2013 for Best Score. Three Dancers, choreographed by Didy Veldman for Rambert premiered at Sadler’s Wells in 2015.

Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes.

Photo by Bridget Elliot

Simon Daw / Set, Costume & Video Designer

Simon’s work is focused on two areas: the design of set, costume and video for theatre, dance and opera; and the creation of interactive performance works.

1984, Northern Ballet; World Factory, Metis Arts/Young Vic; Owen Wingrave, Aldeburgh Music/Edinburgh International Festival; Sheppey, French Without Tears, The Philanderer, Orange Tree Theatre; Eventual Progress, Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre; Waiting for Godot, Wonderful Tennessee, Democracy, The Winter’s Tale, The Daughter-In-Law, Sheffield Theatres; The Metamorphosis, Linbury, Royal Opera House and The Joyce, New York; Dead Heavy Fantastic, Lost Monsters, Liverpool Everyman; As One, Royal Ballet; Dolls, National Theatre of Scotland; Fast Labour, Hampstead Theatre/West Yorkshire Playhouse; DNA, Baby Girl, The Miracle, The Enchantment, National Theatre; Elling, Bush and Trafalgar Studios; Romeo and Juliet, RSC Stratford/Albery; Bloom, Rambert.

Floriaan Ganzevoort / Lighting Designer

Floriaan Ganzevoort is a lighting designer for theatre, music, dance and spaces of all kinds. In 2008, he founded Theatermachine – a company that promotes an environment in which lighting design is central to the meaning of a project. These projects extend beyond theatre to music, public spaces, architecture and light as an independent art form. As a lighting designer and scenographer Floriaan has worked with, amongst others, Dutch National Opera, Theater Basel, Opéra Montpellier, Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway, Swarovski and the Van Gogh Museum. In 2011, Floriaan was award the TIN Wijnberg Scenografieprijs (the Scenography prize of the Duth National Theatre Institution).

Photo by Eddy Wentink

The Smith Quartet / Recorded Music

(L-R) Ian Humphries (Violin), Deirdre Cooper (Cello), Rick Koster (Violin), Nic Pendlebury (Viola)

For over 25 years, The Smith Quartet have been at the forefront of the world’s contemporary music scene. They have developed a repertoire by some of the world’s most exciting composers and have established an international reputation for their dynamic style and original approach to contemporary music.

They have performed at many of the major music festivals and venues in the UK and around the world, and collaborated with unique artists of different genres including dance. They have broadcast extensively for the BBC and recorded more than 20 discs including the Glass and Reich quartets with Signum Records.

Photo by Hugo Glendinning

Leafcutter John / Electronic Music

Leafcutter John is an award winning musician and artist living in London. His releases on Planet Mu, Staubgold and Desire Path Recordings combine elements of music-concrete and electro-acoustic music with voice and guitar work more commonly found in folk music.

John has developed a light controlled music performance system that is played gesturally using handheld lights. Winning the Qwartz prize for innovation in 2015 for his work on it.

John has toured extensively and worked/played with a wide verity of musicians, poets and choreographers including: Beck, Thursten Moore, Imogen Heap, Wayne Mcgregor, BBC Symphony and Concert orchestras, Matmos, Grace Jones, Nick Cave, Yo La Tengo, Beth Orton, Talvin Singh, and Otomo Yoshihide.

John is also a key member of Polar Bear, a twice Mercury Music Prize-nominated band based 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.

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.


Shailesh Bahoran

Shailesh Bahoran is a versatile dancer, theatre director and choreographer. His work is characterised by a free artistic vision in which he continuously looks to stimulate moods and emotions from his audience; this philosophical approach, innovative and experimental pieces has led to acclaim throughout the dance world. In addition to being a theatre-maker, Shailesh is a versatile hip hop dancer who is distinguished by his phenomenal technique, originality and expressiveness. He has firm roots in the hip hop culture but is certainly not afraid to think outside the box, and has worked with Dutch National Ballet, Don’t Hit Mama, Netherlands Symphony Orchestra and the Amsterdam Academy of the Arts.

Photo by Steven Tips

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


Commissioned by Southbank Centre in 2015
Music commissioned with funding from the RPS Drummond Fund
Original lighting design (2015) by Bruno Poet
Photos by Chris Nash

Material Men redux has been generously supported by the Dr Michael and Anna Brynberg Charitable Foundation, Garcia Family Foundation, Oak Foundation, and all our Creative Circle and Apsara supporters.

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