Play of Percentages

A percentage scale between Kathak and Contemporary.

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Photos: Malcolm Johnson

Play of Percentages was the first significant work created by Balbir in 2008. It was the result of nine months of research into the impact of Kathak training on the contemporary dancer.

This exploration of what happens when different worlds collide – which recurrs in Balbir’s work over the years – can be traced back to Play of Percentages.

Play of Percentages explores movement along a spectrum between two points, Kathak and Contemporary dance. The work represents a percentage mix of influences, principles, ideas and essences of the two styles, both physically and mentally as thought processes for the dancers as well as musically.

The work derives from exploring the question:

Does applying the principles of Kathak onto western trained dancers create something new and engaging without the dancers becoming traditional Indian dancers?

The final piece represents the journey the dancers took from one style to the other. The studio process the dancers and Balbir Singh went through to achieve this piece was to generate movement material in both art forms and then migrating one to the other resulting in a synthesis, something new, something fresh.

The piece explores movement on a spectrum scale between two points – Kathak and contemporary dance. It represents a percentage mix of influences, principles, ideas and essences of the two styles.

The music is integral to the work, not just as a performance medium, but as an active ingredient in the creative process. Audiences sense this unfold throughout the performance as the work challenges dancers to explore their musicality as well as their physicality.

The relationship and understanding between dancer and musician is critical; the playfulness between them is a key element to the piece and the company’s identity. The mental sparring between dancer and musician is evident throughout the work as is the feeling that the one cannot function without the other. Tensions do exist, though in a sibling-like rivalry, one trying to push and provoke the other forward on the journey.

Play of Percentages is an abstract piece of work with pure dance at its heart. There is no significant narrative, however emotional themes and feelings are embedded within the movement along with hope and longing to reach somewhere just out of reach.

“I bloody loved it.” The Culture Vulture

More about Play of Percentages

BSDC: The work