21 Feb 2009

Shobana Jeyasingh - "Flickr"


This is the kind of dance that inspired me to dance in the first place. I'm sure that the bastards will never let me do this kind of dancing, however I keep trying!

What I like about this dance is that it is neither here nor there. It may as well be meaningless as much as it is meaningful. The choreography is a "displacement" of culture(s), to the degree that the computerised flickers in the background (after about 3 minutes of the video) are neither human or otherwise - a spiritual truth, rather than one of place, nationality, objective reality and the familiarity of objects. By spiritual I don't mean religious, nor do I mean something connected with extra sensory perception, or some other spooky manifestation, I just mean the soul, our sense of being human.

Admittedly, the computer graphics, although connected to the dancers' movements are pretty damn dated, but that adds to the charm. The naivety of dance; its bodily (un)sophistication and limited patterns of expression allow for an immediacy of expression and its removal from the opaque imagery of computer images and video allow dance to sit next to new media arts and say "I can play with you, but I will never be you".

Evidently, this is an "intellectual" dance, although it is not pretentious, in the sense that Modern dance can be. There isn't this odd Modernist idea that dance must have profound subject-matter, but fuck the style! Here, the intellectuality is in the fusion of cultures and styles, and the sophistication of thought that creates choreography with elegant subtlety. It asks many questions and reflects today's "global community", but there are few if any answers.

Isn't the music great? I remember watching another of Jeyasingh's works, "No exit" accompanied by Michael Nyman's notated music for electric guitar! At times Nyman can be messy with his compositions, a la Vaughn Williams' muddy orchestrations, but mostly, this guitar music "kicked ass" and remained abstract and ethereal, as only an electric guitar can!

The main two concerns, stylistically speaking, for Jeyasingh are Indian dance and Western concert styles. However, once again there is no pretension, no "look at me aren't I clever", so prevalent in some Modern dance (that probably nearly killed it off!). The fluidity and funkiness of the choreography reminds the viewer of Jazz or ballroom styles and, although the Indian hand gestures and styling are subtle, they are at times, wilfully graphic.


P.s. apologies, I could not embed video in page!


Sheila Murphy said...

quite taken with all of this - thanks, Simon!

Crescentsi said...

Thanks Sheila - I love Jeyasingh's work, the only thing is the video is a bit dark! Works well on stage, but no so good on video :-)