Close nav

TooMortal (2012)

A beautiful and mesmerising work strikingly set within historic churches.

Dancing within the pews, six women dressed in flame red weave a story that moves between power and quiet reflection. Are they charting a journey from cradle to grave? Or cast adrift on a wooden sea?

The TooMortal soundtrack by sound artist Cassiel remixes Tenebrae Responsories by James MacMillan, creating an atmosphere of calm solemnity infused with tense, sometimes ominous, flavours.

Listen to Surface Tension – the podcast from Shobana Jeyasingh Dance. 
In Episode 3, Guardian Dance Critic Sanjoy Roy talks to Shobana about staging TooMortal.

St George’s Anglican Church, Venice
14–16 
Jun 2012
Presented by Venice Biennale

St Mary’s Old Church, London
28–30
 Jun 2012
Presented by Dance Umbrella as part of London 2012 Festival

St Pancras Church, London
12–14 Jul 2012
Presented by Dance Umbrella as part of London 2012 Festival

St Swithun’s Church, Worcester
19–21
 Jul 2012
Presented by DanceFest as part of London 2012 Festival

Sankt Jacobs Kyrka, Stockholm
12–13 
Sept 2012
Presented by Dansens Hus Stockholm

Franjevačka crkva, Belgrade
20–21 
Sept 2012
As part of BITEF Festival 2012

St Pancras Church, London
10–12
 Oct 2013
As part of Dance Umbrella 2013

St Mary the Virgin Church
3–5 Apr 2014
Presented by ICIA Bath University & Bath Dance

Available for touring

Contact Joel Cottrell

 

One of the most striking and overpowering [pieces] of her career. Jeyasingh has struck gold with TooMortal.

The Times
 

Small dances that make such a profound impression don’t come along every day.

Dance Magazine
 

TooMortal is short … yet still manages to evoke a history of birth struggle and death, of communal worship and individual rebellion.

The Guardian

Creative Team

Shobana Jeyasingh CBE / Choreographer

“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

 

Cassiel / Composer

Nick Rothwell (aka Cassiel) is a composer, performer, software architect, programmer and sound artist. He has built media performance systems for projects with Ballett Frankfurt and Vienna Volksoper (choreographer: Michael Klien) and Braunarts, and interactive installations for Sonic Arts Network, TECHNE (Istanbul) and the Kinetica kinetic art fair (London). He has worked at STEIM (Amsterdam), CAMAC (Paris) and ZKM (Karlsruhe) and has composed soundtracks for choreographers Aydin Teker (Istanbul) and Richard Siegal (Laban Centre), and performed with Laurie Booth (Dance Umbrella, New Territories), and at the Different Skies Festival (Arcosanti, Arizona), the ICA, and the Science Museum’s Dana Centre.

cassiel.com

Ursula Bombshell / Costume Designer

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.

Yaron Abulafia / Lighting Designer

Over the past 17 years, Yaron has designed lighting for nearly 100 theatre and dance performances, installations, concerts and television shows internationally. His passion for lighting design developed after six years of painting and sculpture studies; a visual influence which is often distinguished in the characteristics of his designs.

Alongside his artistic career, he is completing a PhD at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) on the Semiotics and Poetics of Light in Contemporary Theatre. He holds a Masters degree (M.F.A.) in Scenography from the Frank Mohr Institute in Groningen, and B.A. in theatre studies from Tel Aviv University in Israel.

He has won First Prize for lighting design in a competition supported by PHILIPS for his work on Peer Gynt (Romania, 2008), and has been nominated for the Knight of Illumination 2011 for his work in Awakenings with Rambert Dance and for best lighting design for theatre for In the Solitude of Cotton Fields (Israel, 2011).

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.

Hayley Ryan / Rehearsal Assistant

Hayley joined Shobana Jeyasingh Dance in 2010. She has a first-class BA Hons in Dance and Culture from University of Surrey and in 2010 gained an MA in Dance:Performance at the University of Chichester, as a member of MAPDance. As an aerialist and dancer, Hayley has performed at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, with Secret Cinema and their sister company Future Cinema and with various dance companies. She has also choreographed and taught for the Royal Academy of Dance’s Performance School, RAD’s Step Into Dance programme and various projects with DanceDigital.

Rachel Shipp / Production Manager 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.

Dancers

Vanessa Abreu 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.

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.

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.

Alejandra Lucrecia Baño Pelegrin Audrey Rogero

Credits

Commissioned by La Biennale di Venezia (Venice), Dance Umbrella (London), Dansens Hus (Stockholm) and BITEF Festival (Belgrade) within ENPARTS – European Network of Performing Arts, with the support of the European Commission.
Photos by Yaron Abulafia

Join our mailing list

Sign up to our e-newsletter bringing you the latest company news and shows.

Our e-newsletters include information about our work, events, fundraising appeals and learning activity. We’ll also send you occasional additional emails during tour periods featuring photo galleries, articles and trailers.