2019 marks the 30th anniversary of Shobana Jeyasingh Dance. To celebrate we’re producing a series of podcasts that explore Shobana’s work, her pioneering vision and her contribution to the UK’s cultural landscape.
During this first episode – Configurations – Sanjoy Roy speaks to choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh and composer Michael Nyman to get their take on how the Configurations collaboration came about. Each share memories about the process, research and how they combined contrasting elements of Western contemporary music and Indian classical music.
Shobana tells how the relationship between choreographer and composer was all about communicating patterns of rhythm, in this instance, with no shared musical history and details the challenges of representing bharathanatyam dance via a string quartet.
Michael candidly describes how Shobana ‘threw down the gauntlet’ in supplying precise notations on bharatanatyam rhythms and how she inspired him to write ‘String Quartet No. 2’.
After first hearing Michael’s score Shobana recounts her initial impressions, running around the sound world trying to find information that dancers needed. We hear how the piece finally came together with choreography and music and how it evolved into quartet, via a trio. Shobana talks through the balancing act between the visuals and the richness of the music.