In Shantala Shivalingappa’s name we find Shiva, the lord of dance. According to the texts, Shiva has over one thousand names. He is the god of creation and destruction. Lord of cremation grounds, his body is covered with ash. Shantala Shivalingappa’s dance revolves around the figure of this god, whose vibration gives rise to the rhythm of the world.
I asked Shantala if she wanted to experience ash. Ash is not merely the solid residue of perfect combustion : it is a process. Ash is a fertiliser. It is part of a cycle of death and birth. Ash therefore possesses the potentiality of life. Is this why it is sacred in India, why cremation grounds have a particular energy, why life and death are but one and the same in the cycle of reincarnations? What does Shiva do? He destroys and he dances.
I met Shantala Shivalingappa in 2008, in the corridors of the theatre, in Dusseldorf with Pina Bausch. It was the last “Drei wochen mit Pina” festival. Shantala danced with Pina Bausch in Nefés, she also presented a solo, as well as a duet with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. It was there that Shantala saw Plus ou moins l’infini (More Or Less, Infinity). It was a time of strong convergence that seems almost unreal to me, considering that it brought together a number of elements which were going to be significant to my path and to that of Shantala’s. Something was going to die here and something else was going to be reborn.
Shantala’s dance is moulded by this journey between Kuchipudi and Pina Bausch, between India and Europe, between Shiva and Dionysus, who are said to be incarnations of the same deity, Shiva having lived on in Hindu mythology while Dionysus, swept aside by monotheistic religions, was gradually forgotten in Europe, a wandering god, god of theatre. Shantala constantly travels back and forth between Madras where she was born, and Paris where she lives. Her dance mirrors this perpetual swinging, somewhere between Hindu mysticism and quantum physics.
I pictured Shantala Shivalingappa dancing on ash for aSH, the title of which is made up of the initials and last letters of her name. aSH is the final opus in the trilogy of portraits of women, ten years after it began in 2008 with Questcequetudeviens? (What’s Become of You ?), followed by Plexus in 2012. In this trilogy, my starting point is not space, which is my usual subject matter in theater, but a woman, a person who has her own story. This trilogy is about a living being unfolding through dance. With aSH, Shantala Shivalingappa dances beyond herself. In a set designed from ash and vibrations, she incarnates Shiva who propels the world into manifesting and allows space to dance.
Aurélien Bory • September 2017
Born in Madras, India, brought up in Paris, Shantala is the child of east and west. She grew up in a world filled with dance and music, initiated at a tender age by her mother, dancer Savitry Nair.
Deeply moved and inspired by Master Vempati Chinna Satyam’s pure and graceful style, Shantala dedicated herself to Kuchipudi, and received an intense and rigorous training from her master.
Driven by a deep desire to bring Kuchipudi to the western audience, she has performed in important festivals and theatres (such as: Théâtre de la Ville-Paris, Sadler’s Wells – London, Mercat de les Flors-Barcelona, Jacob’s Pillow Festival-USA, New York City Center, Herbst Theatre-San Francisco), earning praise and admiration from all.
Acclaimed as a rare dancer by artists and connoisseurs in India and Europe, Shantala combines a perfect technique with flowing grace and a very fine sensitivity. Since the age of 13, she also had the privilege of working with some of the greatest artists of our times: Maurice Béjart (1789…et nous), Peter Brook (for whom she played Miranda in The Tempest and Ophelia in Hamlet), Bartabas (Chimère), Pina Bausch (O Dido, Néfès, and Bamboo Blues), Amagatsu (Ibuki). Such experiences make her artistic journey a truly unique one.
Today, Shantala shares her time between touring with her solos and expanding her own choreographic work in the Kuchipudi style. Passionate about human encounters and the artistic journey they trigger, she also revels in collaborating with various artists in the exploration of dance, music and theatre.
Some of these collaborations are: Play (2010), a duet with dancer-choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Nineteen Mantras (2012), a modern opera inspired by hindu myths, directed by Giorgio Barberi Corsetti and for which Shantala created the choreography; Peer Gynt (2012) directed by Irina Brook for the Salzburg Festival, in which Shantala acts, dances, and sings.
In 2013, Shantala was awarded the prestigious «Bessie» dance award in New York City for her Kuchipudi solo «Shiva Ganga». In 2014, she performed in AM I, a piece by Sydney-based «Shaun Parker & Company» at the Sydney Opera House, with a cast of 13 Australian dancers and musicians.
With Shantala Shivalingappa
and Loïc Schild (percussions)
Design, scenography, direction Aurélien Bory
Choregraphy Shantala Shivalingappa
Live music composition Loïc Schild
Dramaturgy Taïcyr Fadel
Light design Arno Veyrat
assisted by Mallory Duhamel
Automatic rhythms Joan Cambon
Set Technical Conception Pierre Dequivre, Stéphane Chipeaux-Dardé
Costumes Manuela Agnesini
with the valuable help of Nathalie Trouvé
Technical Director Thomas Dupeyron
Stage Manager Michael Godbille or Thomas Dupeyron
Sound Manager Stéphane Ley
Light Manager François Dareys or Thomas Dupeyron
Head of Production Florence Meurisse
Production Manager Clément Séguier-Faucher
Press Plan Bey Agency
PRODUCTION Compagnie 111 – Aurélien Bory
COPRODUCTION ThéâtredelaCité – CDN Toulouse Occitanie, Festival Montpellier Danse 2018, Agora – PNAC Boulazac-Nouvelle-Aquitaine, La Scala – Paris, L’Onde Théâtre Centre d’Art, Vélizy-Villacoublay. With the participation of ENSATT-Lyon.
REHEARSALS AND RESIDENCIES La nouvelle Digue-Toulouse, ThéâtredelaCité – CDN Toulouse Occitanie
Compagnie 111 – Aurélien Bory is under funding agreement with the Regional Directorate for Cultural Affairs Occitanie / French Ministry of Culture and Communication, Region Occitanie / Pyrénées – Méditerranée and the City council of Toulouse. It is supported by the Departmental Council of Haute-Garonne.