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Shobana Jeyasingh Dance makes its Sadler’s Wells debut

1 Sep 2017

Image by Chris Nash

This autumn, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance gives its first performances on the main stage at Sadler’s Wells when Jeyasingh presents her new version of Bayadère – The Ninth Life on 16 and 17 October.

Jeyasingh has long been fascinated with Marius Petipa’s 19th century classic ballet, La Bayadère. In Bayadère – The Ninth Life, she casts a cool eye over its excesses, searching for the roots of the exotic temple dancer and the allure she has exerted in Europe over the centuries.

The work opens with an online conversation between two young British Asian men. One of them has been taken to the ballet by his girlfriend – the ballet is La Bayadère.  Is this stuff for real? As he describes the iconic Kingdom of the Shades, the ghostly dancers exert their power and transport the storyteller into their own world of Orientalist fantasy.

This 2017 edit has a bold new design by the award-winning Tom Piper, co-creator of the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppy installation at the Tower of London. Together, he and Jeyasingh undercut the narcotic sensuality, the parrots and peacocks, of the Victorian vision of the bayadère. A series of shifting structures and museum-like vitrines frame the ten exceptional dancers who include Avatâra Ayuso, Noora Kela and Sooraj Subramaniam as the bayadère.

Composer, producer and DJ Gabriel Prokofiev’s commissioned score for the original piece was nominated for a British Composer Award in 2015. For this new version, he intersperses the score with sounds from city streets to reflect the urban reality of the dancers’ 21st century world. French critic Théophile Gautier’s lascivious impressions of Indian temple dancers on their first visit to Europe in 1838 are spoken as part of the sound score.

Dramaturgy is by Karthika Naïr, author of Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata; video by Sander Loonen; and lighting design by Fabiana Piccioli.

Jeyasingh’s earlier version of Bayadère – The Ninth Life premiered at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House in 2015.

For more information or to book tickets, please visit the Sadler’s Wells website.