We are but Shadows

For our anniversary festival at Sadler’s Wells, we’re reflecting on our 20-year history and knew that it was paramount that we dedicate an evening to the artists of the future.

With the support of Darbar Festival, on 13 October, we present: We are but Shadows. An evening comprised of two Indian classical works, both performed originally as part of Akram and Mavin Khoo’s dance curation for the festival.


Part I: Jwala – Rising Flame

“Tell me, flame, is there a difference between the power of a spark and an inferno?” – Subramanya Bharathi (Indian poet/activist)

Are you the destructive fire that burns, or the radiant lamp that illuminates? Are you the blazing cosmic flame that lights the Physical universe, or silent inner the flame that yearns for liberation?

This three-part production explores the Sanskrit phrase “Jwala Vyapnoti Akasham, meaning the Rising Light fills space, envisioning “Jwala” as the flickering flame, a powerful symbol of life and spirit. Jwala explores the enigmatic quality of the Flame: that which burns is that which simultaneously illuminates. Created after the passing of her father and the birth of her daughter, Jwala finds connection between death and life, between saying good-bye and looking ahead, between release and hope, between shedding and seeking.

Through dynamic choreography by Mythili Prakash, and an evocative musical score by her brother and collaborator Aditya Prakash, Jwala seeks to summon the multiple resonances of the Rising Flame from the cosmic, to the temporal, and the spiritual.

Part II: Me: Ravana

Accompanied by female musicians, an all-male bharatanatyam ensemble from the Temple of Fine Arts Inner Space Dance perform choreography by Mavin Khoo.

The musicians provide an extended prologue of spiritual Bhajan hymns alluding to the spirit of Lord Rama to open the performance. This provides an entry to the mythological world of the Ramayana through the lens of the ten headed demon god Ravana. This new work explores three scenes from the epic; the abduction of Sita, the building of the bridge by Rama’s army of monkeys and the killing of Ravana.

Me: Ravana explores these scenes through a hybridised Bharata Natyam form specific to the multi-layered body of the Malaysian dancers. Incorporating a strong interplay between music and dance and the cross-cultural interpretations of the Indian Ramayana and the South East Asian ‘Story of Ravana’, the work aims to provide an alternative perspective to our understanding of the demon God, King of Lanka.

"Bring the stories of the shadows into the light"


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