I AM NOT AN
I am not an Indian dancer? boldly depicts one tree with two branches of dance styles.
A beautiful duet flowing between contemporary techniques and classical Indian dance, set to an original piece of music composed by Jesse Bannister .
Conceived and Directed by Balbir Singh
Choreography and Dancers: Abirami Eswar and Yamit Salazar
Original Choreography and Dancers : Sooraj Subramaniam and Eliot Smith
Composer: Jesse Bannister
Text by Sooraj Subramaniam
Costume by Balbir Singh
Premiered on 26 November 2019 at The Sage Gateshead
Reflection by Balbir Singh
The process in making this work used the bold concept of the statement I am not an Indian dancer? and a single tree with branches growing out from it. It is a useful starting point to investigate what this means in the context of these two dancers:
One, grounded in the Martha Graham technique is a contemporary dancer, where a strong emphasis is placed on breath, contraction and the spine.
The other dancer trained in Indian dance styles.
And the questions which emerge from bringing the two together are:
Is it possible for contemporary dance to be understood, interpreted and translated through Indian dance?
Can a contemporary dancer go deeper into his or her own identity, body and art form through experiencing how an Indian dancer makes sense of his or her dance?
What do they share in common? – is this a duet, two solos or just one dancer?
About Balbir Singh
Balbir Singh of Balbir Singh Dance Company is originally from Punjab, India. He moved with his parents to the UK as a child, growing up in Bradford, West Yorkshire, where he still lives.
Balbir Singh studied dance at Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) after a stint in Law School. Balbir’s restlessness found expression in sport; particularly long-distance running, swimming and cycling, coupled with a passion for literature, language and an inherent urge to move. On graduating from NSCD, another chance encounter led Balbir to discover Kathak, the classical North Indian Dance form, which until that point had been a closed book for the young contemporary-trained dancer.
Balbir’s discovery of Kathak immediately felt like coming home – though not for the expected reasons. In fact, it was not Kathak’s cultural provenance, but its precise and mathematical use of numerically defined rhythms that entranced him. Balbir had always had a tendency, sometimes bordering on an obsession, with numbers and letters. Here, at last, was an outlet for his seemingly limitless capacity for finding patterns in the shapes and numbers of everyday life.
Balbir delved further into Kathak choreography as a way of making sense of the myriad thoughts and ideas spontaneously suggesting themselves to him. Ancient as the Kathak tradition is, the art form is nothing if not dynamic. Throughout his career, Balbir has been encouraged by his guru, leading Kathak pioneer and powerhouse Padmashri Guru Pratap Pawar MBE to explore new ways of combining Kathak and contemporary sensibilities to express his emerging artistic vision. The result is a distinguished body of work that combines Balbir’s artistic interests with his love of collaboration.
I am not an Indian dancer? is an Eliot Smith Dance commission and is originally funded by Arts Council England and Northumberland Arts Development