Shobana Jeyasingh Dance’s new double bill Classic Cut features her seminal 1988 collaboration with Michael Nyman, Configurations and new work Dev Kahan Hai?/Where is Dev?

Premiere: Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, 13 to 17 March

Touring until 27 March 2012

I haven’t seen Shobana Jeyasingh’s work for many years and to revisit her choreography is to be reminded of what a brilliant artist she is. Her first work in this thrilling programme is Dev Kahan Hai?/Where is Dev?  This uses Pete Gomes’ elliptical film images projected on a fractured screen and a strangely haunting sound score of whispers and abstract by Niraj Chag.  Though the theme is based on the dangerous kiss of the Bollywood movie, it has a complex vocabulary which marries classical Indian Dance (Bharat Natyam) with London cool.  The monochrome costumes give it a contemporary feel.  It’s as if Jeyasingh is evoking the influence of modern Indian movies on the London youth scene.  The classical and the modern are interconnected.  I liked the way she explores two parallel narratives within two contrasting vocabularies.  Her modern Londoners dance in shades and their costumes are the East-West mix that we all sport now.  The only colour in this production is the light on the screen so that the black and white costumed dancers are juxtaposed against pink stripes or lit only in red gel.  This is a witty work where design, lighting, ensemble performance and choreography are synthesized into a satisfying whole.

Configurations uses a live string quartet to play Michael Nyman’s explosive score.  Here Jeyasingh dresses her two male and two female dancers in pink and ochre skirts and again the costume straddles the two cultures but the dance is pure Bharat Natyam.  It’s an exciting interplay which pushes the edges of the classical into a new genre.  Jeyasingh uses repetition, as does Nyman.  In her dance score, the rigour of the recurring deep knee bend with the heels up is constantly replayed to force the eye to examine anatomical geometry.  This position is constantly refigured so that there is a meeting between musical repetition and dance.

Jeyasingh re-examined endorses her position as a major choreographer whose brain and imagination leaps off the stage.  Her vision delights the eye and the brain.  This is a rare gift.

Review: Julia Pascal © 2012

Photo: Clifford Bishop/Evening Standard


  1. Classic Cut has been co-commissioned by ROH2 at the Royal Opera House and The Point Eastleigh. It is a co-production with ROH2.
  2.  The music commission by Niraj Chag is supported with funds from PRS for Music Foundation.
  3.  The classical dance Bharatha Natyam has two techniques, Nritta which is abstract movement and Nritya which deals with character and narrative. Shobana’s inspiration to date has been the former.


Tuesday 13 – Saturday 17 March

Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London (Premiere)
Bow Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9DD
Box Office:             020 7304 4000
The Smith Quartet plays live
Post-show talk on 14 March
Curtain-raiser performance by students from Mulberry School for Girls on 15 March

Tuesday 20 March
mac, Birmingham
Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH
Box Office:             01214 463232
The Benyounes Quartet plays live
Pre-show talk

Thursday 22 March
The Cube, Corby
George Street, Corby, NN17 1QG
Box Office:             01536 470470

Tuesday 27 March
The Brewhouse, Taunton
Coal Orchard, Taunton, Somerset TA1 1JL
Box Office:             01823 283244
The Benyounes Quartet plays live
Post-show talk

Classic Cut will also tour in autumn 2012