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

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

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