Photo: Karol Wyszynski
This opportunity for performers and audience members to mix has come out of Balbir Singh’s experience while supporting his guru Padmashri Pratap Pawar during a tour in India. Each show would end with Balbir’s guru surrounded by eager fans, keen to discuss aspects of the performance.

Balbir commented, ‘I was struck by just how accessible high level classical artists in India are. They’re very accessible in general – for example you’d never get anywhere near someone like, say, Paul McCartney after a performance. There is a genuine openness and generosity, with artists wanting to talk about and share the art form, and hear the audience’s comments on what they have experienced.’

In Love and Spice, this remarkable approach to artist-audience engagement is encouraged through the use of food, the universal language that brings people together.

I wanted to find a way for artists and audience to mingle and chat freely – just as I’d seen happen in India while supporting Guruji on his dance tour.

Balbir Singh

Photo: Karol Wyszynski

One of the most novel and engaging aspects of Love and Spice is its incorporation of live cooking into the performance. A chef, on stage throughout the piece, first prepares the ingredients, then cooks as the story unfolds. The themes of love and spices are explored by the dancers, accompanied throughout by the sights and sounds of food being cooked.

Sizzling pans, leaping flames and the pungent aroma of spices heighten the audience experience. The performers themselves interact with the chef, encouraging him to add more of this or that ingredient, in order to bring about the transformation they seek. And at the end of the performance, audience members are invited to share the completed dish.

Cast and audience mingle over food, providing a rare opportunity to learn more about the diverse artforms and culinary traditions of the Indian subcontinent.