Photo: Marcin Szymczak

How Balbir Singh’s Broken Tusk came into being

The extraordinary architecture of Coventry’s leisure centre pool was the perfect backdrop for installation artist Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon. And the synergy created by both turned out to be the perfect inspiration for a new water-based work by Balbir Singh.

When Festival of the Imagineers’ organisers asked Balbir Singh to produce a piece of dance to accompany Jerram’s installation, everyone assumed it would simply be a version of Balbir Singh Dance Company’s breakthrough 2012 water spectacular Synchronised. Returning from a visit to the pool however, Balbir reflected on the atmosphere of the venue. The silence of the pool (it is the only one in Europe to employ a silent filtration system) and the ethereal, cathedral-like aspect of its mid-century high modernist architecture, put Balbir in mind of more spiritual themes. By the time he got back to Yorkshire, he had conceived of an entirely new piece that would bring the themes of water and the moon together in a tale of spiritual wonder. The result was Broken Tusk.

Photo: Marcin Szymczak

Broken Tusk tells the story of Ganesh, and why in anger he broke his tusk and threw it at the moon for laughing at his exploits. Featuring live music, contemporary and traditional Kathak dancers and Rugby and Walsall synchronised swimming clubs, Broken Tusk opened the Imagineers’ festival, and played to full houses over two days.

For the leisure centre it provided a way of bringing in people who may might not consider entering the building, as part of encouraging healthier lifestyles.

And it proved yet again that Balbir’s signature synthesis of artforms and narratives can attract audiences who may otherwise never venture to explore either dance or diverse cultures.

The ethereal, cathedral-like mid-century modernist architecture put Balbir in mind of more spiritual themes

Photo: Marcin Szymczak
Moon

Photo: Marcin Szymczak

The story of Ganesh is ancient, yet the setting for our work was highly modern. It makes me wonder: what would happen if we imagined how the myths of Ganesh would look today? Perhaps we should be thinking of the ‘Future Tales of Ganesh’?

Balbir Singh

Photo: Marcin Szymczak