This summer, watch two versions of Shobana Jeyasingh Dance’s intense and moving Contagion, commemorating the centenary of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.
Originally created as a live dance installation, Jeyasingh’s choreography echoes the scientific features of a virus: rapid, random and constantly shape-shifting. The dancers contort, strategise and mutate as they explore both the resilience and the vulnerability of the human body; sometimes desperately nursing the sick, sometimes sick and dying themselves. The devastation to families and communities is laid bare.
Graeme Miller’s poetic sound-score, listened to through headsets, features extracts from diaries and medical records, the fluttering of wings and the cries of birds.
On Monday 17th August, you will be able to watch a new filmed version of Contagion, created with film director Terry Braun. The film is the last of SJD SHORTS, a series of inventive translations of some of Jeyasingh’s best works made during lockdown. The 15-minute film is bookended by conversations between Jeyasingh and Guardian dance critic Sanjoy Roy.
If you fancy watching a performance in person, then head to Hampshire from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd August for an intimate, outdoor promenade version of the dance piece.
The Grange Festival near Winchester will present a recreated outdoor version of this exploration of a 20th century global pandemic, restaged to suit the conditions of the present one. The similarities are remarkable. This short 10-minute work featuring four dancers, redrawn from the original, reminds us that it is finally the nursing delivered with devotion by family, neighbours and professionals that counts in the end.
Precipice is an outdoor immersive poetic sequence of different performances, both music and dance. The promenade will use the natural stages provided around the grounds of The Grange. The performance will last an hour and will be presented to small audiences of up to 60 at a time, guided by actor Tonderai Monyevu.
Other performances will include Sir John Tomlinson, singing a monologue of Hans Sachs from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg; Kiandra Howarth and Claire Barnett-Jones singing the flower duet from Delibes’ Lakmé, and a commission from the young South African dancer and choreographer Mthuthuzeli November of Ballet Black.
When: Online on 17th August 2020, and at Grange Festival, 21st – 23rd August 2020
Where: Online, and at Grange Festival, Northington, Alresford, Hampshire SO24 9TZ
£: Free to watch Contagion online. Tickets for Precipice at Grange Festival cost £50 for adults and £30 for children