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Shobana Jeyasingh: [h]Interland    
Shobana Jeyasingh, Greenwich Dance Agency, London

The Guardian, Saturday October 26, 2002
by Judith Mackrell

 

   
Greenwich Dance Agency is not one of London's slickest theatres—its glum, local authority interior suggests that it has hosted more community socials than cutting-edge shows. But Shobana Jeyasinghs new work, [h]interland, not only aims to re-imagine GDA's auditorium but also transport it to an exotic cyberspace.  

Jeyasingh's first move is to seat the audience on the stage, and confront us with a trio of huge screens on the balcony opposite, which take us far from chilly Greenwich to the streets of Bangalore. On the two flanking screens, Peter Gomes's videos flicker with images of manic urban bustle. On the central screen, one of Jeyasingh's own dancers joins the performance via webcast, filmed as we watch from the roof terrace of Bangalore's smartest hotel.  

The velvety black night sky and the Conran-designed terrace lure us into a traveller's fantasy. But the opening of the live performance is even more arresting. The first dancer, Mavin Khoo, appears on the shadowed floor below and—with exquisite, edgy grace—tracks a long choreographed line through the auditorium, out through the fiercely lit exit door and away into the lift. He's a gorgeous alien, blazing a trail of energy that turns GDA into a place of mystery and expectation.  

The second dancer, Sowmya Gopalan, makes her own startling entrance framed within the glowing space of the bar. As the work evolves, the two dancers occupy all the theatre's spaces, including the balcony, with the same magical abruptness. At times they're dancing solo, at others in tight, exploratory partnership. Chitra Srishailan in Bangalore sometimes looms behind them, her face in giant close-up.  

Inspired by the fraught, exclamatory vocals of Donnacha Dennehy's accompanying score, Jeyasingh's choreography has a wonderful alertness. Her movements glide and quiver around the bare bones of classical Indian dance with a beautiful, restless invention.
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