DANCE / Map of the world: Judith Mackrell reviews Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company at The Place
Tuesday 20 October 1992
Configurations has been reworked from the 1988 piece that Jeyasingh made to a string quartet by Michael Nyman. In this new version she has lost none of the percussive vigour she first drew from the music's urgent rhythms, nor the peremptory emotional charge. What seems more assertive is the choreography's form. As before, elements of Bharatha Natyam have been elegantly deconstructed so that the dance's basic components stand large, free and clear. Jeyasingh has also rebuilt these sparer moves into bigger dance structures, pitting groups of dancers against each other, composing forceful lines and curves and, above all, exploiting the collective emotional and visceral power of her five dancers. The expressive tension of the movement stalks the music note for note, both climaxing in an ending that is demonic in its ferocity.
Intense as Nyman's music is, it would be hard for the dance not to get swept along in its wake. In Making of Maps, though, Jeyasingh and her movement stand alone. Inspired by medieval Mappa Mundi, the piece is an attempt to 'assimilate' Jeyasingh's own complex times. What is overridingly clear in it is the sense of a mind and an aesthetic located intriguingly between west and east, present and past.
The score is a mix of classical Indian music, composed by R A Ramamani, and Alistair MacDonald's layered electronic tape of speech and urban bustle. As pure movement, the dance is pushed further than ever from its origins. A familiar Bharatha Natyam lunge launches into a powerful role; classical gestures and footwork are performed so attenuatedly as to be hardly recognisable. Jeyasingh plays so daringly with extremes of speed, and weaves her dancers into such complex almost random patterns, that at moments we seem adrift in a strange and cerebral dance fantasy.
Yet the choreography works a compelling alchemy in that you also see the dancers mapping out a kind of spiritual geography. A passage of tough, angled movements, set to abrasive electronic sounds, conjures vividly the image of rocky headlands and emotional crisis; a section where the dancers drift gently past in a rolling canon makes you think of benign waves and reflective calm. It's an extraordinary, ambitious work not least for the fact that in it Jeyasingh transcends the cultural differences to create a strong and independent dance language of her own.
Tours until 30 Jan 1992 (for details: 071-383 3252).
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Madonna claims jokes about her age tantamount to racism: 'No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black'
Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank: TV show generates $3.1bn in repeat fees since final episode
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Blade Runner sequel: Harrison Ford confirmed to return with Denis Villeneuve directing
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
House of Cards season 3 premiere, review: Has Frank Underwood gone soft?
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia