[Video by Gary Tanner]
In Shobana Jeyasingh’s Bayadère – The Ninth Life there’s always something new to see with every show. Constantly reinventing her work, she follows what is trending at the time. Back in 2015, she translated her own gaze of Marius Petipa’s 1877 ballet La Bayadère with a young man tapping away on his blog about the story of an Indian female temple dancer trapped in a love triangle between her true love Solor and her rival Gamzatti. Now – 2017 – from Manchester’s Lowry to last night’s premiere performance at the Sadler’s Wells, the opening scene has moved on with a young man texting his London based friend from a hotel room in Hyderabad – he updates him on the ballet his girlfriend made him see, which so happened to be La Bayadère.
Bharatanatyam dancer and contemporary choreographer Jeyasingh has conceived an original and thought-provoking vision of Petipa’s classic ballet, which was once performed regularly in the Soviet Union throughout the 20th century. The performance itself is a fusion of new elements of dancing that I have never seen before; a harmonious balance of traditional ballet, modern contemporary moves and a fascinating Asian dance style called Bharatanatyam.
The clever work of a technical and creative team, including video design and production manager Sander Loonen, lighting designer Fabiana Piccioli and set and costume designer Tom Piper, manage to project text conversations and almost hologramesque dancers onto the stage walls. The luminous staging of carefully coordinated lights (hues of dusk red, ice blue and snake-like green), the integration of intriguing jewel light installations and golden mobile frames are another breakthrough – it keeps the notion of the Bayadère new, fresh and unpredictable.