The Two Fridas is complex to develop. You could make a piece about either artist as there is so much rich source material, as well as their lively personalities. Yet here we are, making a work about both of them!’ – Balbir Singh

The parallels in the two artists’ lives have been noted before.  But the idea of interpreting this through dance is, as far as we know, new.

Photo: Malcolm Johnson

As a choreographer, Balbir’s work does exactly that: his dual training in Kathak and contemporary dance mean his work often seeks to synthesise these two apparently contradictory worlds. The Indian connection to Amrita Sher-Gil is another strand of the concept that drew him to explore the idea further. As Balbir points out: “Both artists are today appreciated far more than during their own lifetimes, but Frida Kahlo has perhaps entered the popular consciousness most widely. Partly as a result of this, Amrita Sher-Gil has at times been described as ‘the Indian Frida Kahlo’. As someone of Indian heritage, I wondered whether, instead, we could explore an alternative view: is not Frida Kahlo also ‘the Mexican Sher-Gil?’”

It is not the first time Balbir Singh has interwoven dance with the world of painting. His Painting the Indian Gods involved an artist painting live on stage alongside the dancers.

Balbir also wanted make the paintings an integral part of the performance. So he introduced the rather novel device of cubes, covered with fragments of both artists’ paintings and two of their famous self-portraits. As the performance unfolds, the performers re-arrange them like pieces of a jigsaw, to help tell the story and make connections between the two artists’ lives, one jigsaw piece at a time.

‘My hope is that the audience will leave inspired and want to find out more about both painters.’ – Balbir Singh

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