NOV. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 2011 – 8 p.m.

NOV. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 2011 – 8 p.m.

“Shantala captivates audiences. She makes each graceful movement of the body an offering to God and a very magical moment.” (La Voix du Nord, Lille)

She has danced for Pina Bausch, Maurice Béjart, Bartabas and Peter Brook. She is sublime. She is Shantala Shivalingappa. She will be in Montreal presenting two programs that highlight her grace, eloquence and virtuosity. She will begin with a performance of Kuchipudi, a classical form of dance from southern India where, following tradition, the solo dancer is accompanied by musicians, incarnating the characters of legend in an exuberant dialogue between the body and the music. The following week she will present a contemporary program featuring works by Pina Bausch and Ushio Amagatsu (Sankai Juku). Danse Danse and Cinquième Salle audiences will have the opportunity to appreciate both facets of this ravishing dancer. A Montreal exclusive not to be missed.

“Of all the artists and companies debuting in the Bay Area this season, none has arrived trailing the mystique of the luminous Indian classical dancer Shantala Shivalingappa, who arrived at the Herbst Theatre on Thursday evening with a quartet of splendid musicians and made 80 minutes of magic.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

Gamaka – Kuchipudi solo accompanied by four musicians


photo © C.P. Satyajit. Dancer: Shantala Shivalingappa Misicians: Ramakrishnan Neelamani, Ramesh Jetty, Jayaram Kikkeri Suryanarayana.


In classical Indian music, the term gamaka refers to the resonant vibration between notes. For Shantala Shivalingappa, “all of creation is vibration. At different levels and velocities, in different shapes and intensities, the core of all things is vibrating, from the most minute and gentle quiver to great thunderous spasms. Movement, rhythm, sound and melody come together in dance as vibrations that resonate, calling each other and playing with each other, escaping and mingling.” 

Gamaka premiered at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris in 2007. It is a suite of five pieces choreographed and danced by Shantala Sivalingappa. In the Kuchipudi tradition, gamaka is the link between music, dance and narrative. Shantala is a remarkable performer, and her absolute mastery of movement and her subtle expression of complex emotions are exemplary.

“Few ballet dancers know, as quite a number of Indian dancers do, how to make a simple sweep of the arm both geometrically gorgeous and a gesture including the Milky Way. (…) Her musicians were equally intoxicating. From the first note (…) a hushed quiet settled over the theater, as if everyone in the audience was leaning in. (…) The sheer rhythmic complexity alone was astounding, as the musicians and Ms. Shivalingappa engaged in a playful and elegant game of call and response, weaving dense layers of sound and meaning.” (The New York Times)



photo © Nicolas Baudier. Dancer: Shantala Shivalingappa


Also premiered at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris in 2007, Namasya consists of four solo pieces, one of which, Shift, she choreographed herself. Ibuki was choreographed by Ushio Amagatsu, artistic director of Sankai Juku, while Smarana is by Savrity Nair, the dancer’s mother and an Indian dance specialist in her own right. The piece entitled Solo is by Pina Bauch and is danced to music by Ferran Savall, worthy son of the bass viol player, composer and conductor Jordi Savall.

Shantala describes Ibuki (breath of life) as being “the very basic rhythm of every day, which is sunset and sunrise. For each gesture, [Amagatsu] gives me images, breathing and ideas, so that I have the impression that the stage is full of flowers, of breaking mirrors, of colours and feelings even though I am alone onstage.

“It was as though the incandescent sensuality of the young, Paris-based Shantala Shivalingappa electrified the predominantly Belgian audience. (…) This was a performance packed with expressiveness and vivacity, where both passion and grace could be seen in a single movement of the body.” (De Morgen, Bruxelles)

Shantala Shivalingappa

Born Madras, India and raised in Paris, Shantala is a child of both East and West. She grew up in a world filled with dance and music, initiated into the arts at a young age by her mother, the dancer Savitry Nair. Shantala focused on Kuchipudi after being moved and inspired by the pure, gracious style of Vempati Chinna Satyam, from whom she received intense and rigorous training. Driven by a desire to bring Kuchipudi to Western audiences, she has performed at several festivals and prestigious theatres, earning praise and admiration.

Acclaimed as an outstanding dancer by artists and connoisseurs in India and Europe, Shantala combines perfect technique and fluid grace with a refined sensitivity. Equally gifted in contemporary dance, she has performed for Maurice Béjart (1789... et nous), Peter Brook (playing Miranda in The Tempest, and Ophelia in Hamlet) and Bartabas (Chimère). As a member of Pina Bausch’s company, she was involved in the creation of O Dido, Néfès and Bamboo Blues. In the autumn of 2009, she co-choreographed and performed in the duo Play with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

Shantala now divides her time between creating new Kuchipudi choreographies, touring her shows and collaborating with a number of renowned artists. 


Kuchipudi is a classical dance form from southern India that developed in the 15th century in a small village of the same name in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Like all Indian classical dance forms, it is based on the Natya Shastra, a 2000-year-old text on dramatics that provides a precise, highly developed codification of dance, music and theatre.  

Kuchipudi has also been influenced by popular dance and folk music traditions. The aim of the form is to instill a spirit of devotion, and the result is a rigorous, classical style that is highly evolved and structured but also full of life, fluid and gracious. The two basic aspects of Kuchipudi are pure dance and expressive dance. Pure dance is rhythmic and abstract. The footwork executes the complex rhythmic patterns of the accompanying music, while the rest of the body follows from the head to the fingertips, sometimes with forceful precision and sometimes with flowing, graceful movements.

Expressive dance is a narrative aspect where each part of the body is used to bring alive the text, poem or story recited in the song. The hand gestures, or mudras, are codified into a very precise language, and the facial expressions are stylized so as to convey a wide range of emotions and feelings.

Kuchipudi is a harmonious combination of these two aspects, alternating moments of pure dance (bright and vivacious, full of beauty and grace) with narrative moments based on Hindu mythology where the focus is on gestures, facial expressions and body language. Kuchipudi performances are accompanied by a live orchestra consisting of flute, vocals, vinâ (a stringed instrument) and percussion. Dance, music and rhythm become as one, with each element existing in relation to the others.

Lenght Gamaka 1 h 25 / Namasya 1 h

Choreographed & performed by Shantala Shivalingappa • Artistic Consultant Savitry Nair • Music & Rhythms J. Ramesh (vocals), B.P.Haribabu (nattuvangam and percussions), N.Ramakrishnan (mridangam), K. S. Jayaram (flute) • Lighting Nicolas Boudier • Lighting operator Denis Chapellon • Sound technician Vincent Morello • Produced by Per Diem & Co / Pierre Barnier • Created at Théâtre de la Ville / Les Abbesses (Paris) in 2007 • I. hymn to Vani, goddess of the arts • II. PranavakaaramMusic Uthukkadu Venkata Subbier • III. VarnamLyrics and music Dr. M.Balamuralikrishna • IV. Kelvi-BadilV. Jaavali • Lyrics and music Annamacharya.

Artistic director and performer Shantala Shivalingappa • Lighting Nicolas Boudier • Lighting operator Denis Chapellon • Videos Alexandre Castres • Video operator Baptiste Klein • Produced by Per Diem & Co / Pierre Barnier • Co-produced by Théâtre de la Ville, Paris • Created at Théâtre de la Ville / Les Abbesses (Paris) in 2007 • I. Ibuki Breath of LifeChoreography and costumes Ushio Amagatsu • Music Yoichiro Yoshikawa • II. SoloCreated during a residency at Tanztheater Wuppertal-Pina Bausch • Music Ferran Savall • Costumes Marion Cito • III. ShiftChoreography Shantala Shivalingappa • IV. Smarana • Choreography Savitry Nair • Traditional music from northern India.





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