Friday, 14 October 2016

Shobana Jeyasingh's New Material

I first came across Shobana Jeyasingh Dance when I saw Bayadère – The Ninth Life at the Linbury last year (see La Bayadère - The Ninth Life 29 March 2015). That was a fascinating juxtaposition of an early Western perception of Indian dance and a modern Indian perception of one of the classics of Western dance. As I remarked at the time:
"I had come to the performance expecting a transposition of the story of the ballet into bharatha natyam or some other Indian dance idiom but it was nothing like that. That would have been too easy and it is clear from the list of her works on her company's website that Jeyasingh doesn't do easy. Instead, it compared and contrasted a modern Indian's perception of one of the classics of Western dance with Théophile Gautier's perception of Indian classical dance."
Shortly after Bayadere - The Ninth Life had completed its tour, the company launched Material Men which it described as "a virtuoso piece for two dazzling performers of the Indian diaspora" with "contrasts in style between classical Indian dance and hip hop, as well as a shared history rooted in colonial plantations, are the starting points for this absorbing dance work."

I did not see that work when it went on tour last Autumn because it did not come to the North but it appears to have gone down well with the press and public which is not surprising if you look at the pictures of the show on the company's website.

I received a newsletter from the company yesterday which announced that Material Men will tour again. This time it will come close as it will open at the Djanogly Theatre in Nottingham on 7 Feb 2017 before visiting Ipswich, Southampton, Birmingham and Glasgow. The work will be danced as part of a double bill with Strange Blooms which was launched in 2013.

Judging by the trailer and the little bit of Jeyasingh's work that I have seen already it will be gripping and absorbing but not easy. However, as I said when I reviewed Bayadere - The Ninth Life that artist does not do easy.

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