Balbir Singh trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds. He went on to learn Kathak dance and after five years of Kathak training, Padmashri Guru Pratap Pawar presented Balbir’s Rang Manch Pravesh solo.
His work combines the skills, disciplines and traditions of Kathak with the less constraining possibilities of contemporary dance. Always working with original live music, the work challenges dancers to explore their musicality as well as their physicality.
Balbir Singh’s own personal history mirrors the changes in cultural identity, which his work explores. Growing up as a British boy in two northern English cities, with a Sikh background but almost entirely western cultural influences and models, Balbir only started to learn about the Kathak tradition as an adult, when asked if he could develop ‘some Indian dance’ for a British dance company. Commentators will search in vain to find in Balbir Singh’s work evidence of Britain’s famously complex relationship with India. Balbir Singh states that his was a cross-cultural upbringing, except in his case the two cultures were Bradford and Leeds.
He pinpoints his move from Bradford to cosmopolitan Leeds as being the biggest spur to his pursuit of a creative career. With this highly individual take on cultural synthesis it is hardly surprising that the work of Balbir Singh Dance Company is seen as more post-structural than post-colonial. Even the centrality of Kathak in the company’s work stems more from Balbir Singh’s fascination for its numerical systems than from any religious motivation.
Balbir Singh collaborates with other artists from a wide range of genres, both directing and choreographing. You can find out more about his productions and projects here.
‘Intellectual daring of a master choreographer.’ Dancing Times
‘An exciting, supremely energetic choreographer.’ The Stage