Photo: Malcolm Johnson

Champion of the Flatlands.

1st Draft Performance Breakdown


Chapter 1. Trial and Error

The stage starts empty except for a bike (possibility of more than one).

Keelan enters and walks across the stage. Sees the bikes and then exits.

Sooraj walks across the stage and exits.

  • This cycle continues perhaps 8 or 9 times. Each time Keelan and Sooraj build upon what they do. E.g. Second time, Keelan kicks the bike wheel, third time he picks it up then puts it down again. Sooraj being a hand gesture, then adds a foot movement etc. This builds until Keelan is riding on his bike and Sooraj is carlin the space (both occupying at the same time)
  • We then see a section in which the same pattern occurs but this time Keelan is building a combo on his bike and Sooraj a dance phrase. Takin it in turns at the beginning, each is trying and failing at first, but becoming more determined to succeed, until finally both achieve their goal at the same time.
  • Throughout this section the music builds from nothing into something quite intense – reflecting the determination and dedication required to become the best at something.
  • Both Keelan and Sooraj exit.

Chapter 2. Hang 5, Hang 10 and Nothing.

  • One by one the dancers enter, using the movement phrase Hang 5 etc. As each dancer enters they join the rest in the same movement, building collectively.
  • Once all the dancers are on stage, Keelan enters on his bike and circles and weaves between the stationary dancers as they continue the movement phrase on the spot.
  • After a time, Keelan starts to join in, performing the same tricks on the bike that the dancers are echoing in their movements. There is an almost call and response element to this.
  • The dancers movements become larger until eventually, one at a time the dancers split into their individual movement phrases.
  • These are performed in a cycle until all of the dancers are using different phrases. Unable to pick a dancer to follow, Keelan stops joining in and stops centre stage. He watches for a moment, then dismounts his bike and moves to the side (leaving the bike centre stage).
  • The dancers begin to move in unison again, in a movement phase that is more sweeping in nature and able to travel across the stage.
  • As a group, they converge on the bike, collectively move it to a different part of the stage, perform a movement phrase and then move the bike again to perform another movement phrase somewhere else.
  • Keelan watches from the side, perhaps mirrored on the opposite side by Sooraj until the piece comes to a close and the bike rests centre stage again.

Chapter 3. The Bike Ballet

Keelan and Sooraj, on opposite sides of the stage, sit and face the audience. Mentally, they are preparing for a competition/performance – running through their bike tricks and dance moves in their heads. The dancers on stage are representing and replicating these thoughts.

  • The dancers pick up the bike again and in slow motion, collectively they travel the bike around the stage, manipulating it into the different shapes it makes during tricks. Every now and again, a solo dancer breaks out, echoing a small movement from classical Kathak before rejoining the group with the bike.
  • This section is potentially accompanied by the Cello – first soft and sweeping, then building in intensity and vigour. In essence it is the calm before the storm and then the storm itself.
  • Half way through the section, Keelan and Sooraj begin to prepare for the performance/competition. Soars begins to put on his formal Kathak costume and Keelan checks his bike.
  • The section ends when the Cello hits a crescendo. The dancers slowly exit leaving the bike.

Chapter 4. Finding your voice.

  • As Keelan and Sooraj continue to prepare, they start to make sounds. E.g. Keenan taps his bike, spins a wheel, Sooraj stamps a foot, pats his chest etc. The musicians perhaps echo these sounds themselves and record them and use them. Either way, slowly a percussive underscore is built that can be used by the musicians in the final chapter.

Chapter 5. The Duet.

  • Using the sounds from the previous scene, the musicians build the music and then Keelan and Sooraj start to perform as though it were a competition or performance. Based upon the video, the two start individually then end performing together.

Explore the process

A lost art?
A bridge to India
Immersed in music
When Worlds Collide
The Idea (learning to dance)
Natural curiosity and questions (learning to dance)
Composer thoughts on Learning to Dance
In the presence of geniuses
The story (love and spice)
A dancer reflects on The Strategists (1)
Overview of The Strategists
Breakdown of The Strategists
Roundness of 12: a breakdown of the piece
Breakdown of the piece (love and spice)
Script (12)
Painter research
A dancer reflects on Love and Spice
Full Contact – highlights from the script
Dancer notes performance (flatlands)
Peacock Lake – genesis of the concept
Firing up the Mehfil Machine
The Collaborators
Creative Case – challenges along the way
The Guru-Shishya relationship
What is Kathak?
Life blood
Collaboration: Balbir & Gary
Colouring your emotions
Covid-19 Update on Monday, April 6th, 2020
Creative Case in action – July to September 2019
Finding my way in The Creative Spirit of John Curry
Talent Development – Abirami Eshwar
Talent Development – Kimberley Hardy
Collaborators: Lorna Brown and Gary Beacom
The Work: Act 1
The Work: Act 2
Planning the show
The 8 Dances
Who was Hans Krebs?
The Citric 
 Acid cycle
Balbir’s thoughts behind the work
Balbir on developing the work
Amrita Sher-Gil & Frida Kahlo
My favourite painting is. . .
Balbir reflects on The Two Fridas
Cast one
Devising in lockdown
Las dos Fridas
‘Alas Para Volar (Wings to Fly)’
Amrita – a story that lives in Art