Akshay Sharma and Meera Patel to receive first Kala Sangam Commissions

Published by KalaSangam on

Following an incredibly competitive process, Akshay Sharma and Meera Patel have been awarded the first ever Kala Sangam Commissions. Each will receive £10,000 towards the development of new dance works that will be performed at Bradford Arts Centre in 2025.

The Commission was launched in November 2023 as part of Kala Sangam’s 30th anniversary celebrations and has been designed to support the creation of new performances that feature classical Indian artforms (including dance, music and theatre).

Dancer and choreographer Akshay Sharma will create What Did the Fire Burn? (working title), a dance piece exploring themes around migration and queerness. This commission will see Akshay choreographing on multiple dancers for the first time, in a piece that also includes classical Indian music and poetry. The piece will challenge stereotypes of what it means to be an Indian dancer through the use of club culture and other dance styles.

A head shot of a south Asian woman looking at the camera

Meera Patel will develop Attuning, a groundbreaking work that allows audiences to experience dance not just visually but through their other senses. Attuning was born out of a project working with Blind and Visually Impaired people, and the technology and staging will allow audiences to feel the rhythms of a dancer’s feet or the push and pull of their movements, opening up dance for both sighted audiences and those with sight loss / impairment.

The successful artists were selected from over 40 applications by a panel led by Kala Sangam’s founder and former Artistic Director Dr. Geetha Upadhyaya OBE. The panel also included Kala Sangam Trustees (and practicing artists) Rashmi Sudhir and James Wilson, Yorkshire Dance’s Artist Development Producer João Maio, independent Artist Jane Chan and Kala Sangam staff.

Dr. Geetha Upadhyaya OBE said, ‘Supporting the next generation of Indian classical artists has always been a key part of the company’s work and I am really looking forward to seeing the impact these Kala Sangam commissions have. Meera and Akshay’s ideas stood out in an extremely competitive field and I cannot wait to see their exciting, innovative performances on stage at Bradford Arts Centre in 2025.’

Alex Croft, Creative Director of Kala Sangam said, ‘We were blown away to receive so many applications for the Kala Sangam Commission and, having seen the quality of ideas, knew we had to find a way to award two commissions rather than one. Both Meera and Akshay are working at the cutting edge of Indian dance and we’re really excited to be working with them over both over the next 18 months to help bring their visions to the stage.’

Akshay Sharma said, ‘I wish to create a cathartic space in which the South Asian experience is celebrated in all of its beauty, in its everydayness, in the brilliance of its myth, it’s folklore exploring community and belonging, delving into what the dancer can do, can be and wants to be seen as. There is fire and it needs to be kept burning. I am thrilled to be the recipient of this commission and thankful to Kala Sangam. This is a new beginning for me and I can’t wait to create this work.’

Meera Patel said, ‘I am delighted to receive the Kala Sangam Commission to continue developing performance work ‘Attuning’. I hope to delve deeper into creating an immersive and interactive performance which decentres the visual, inviting audiences to experience elements of Indian classical dance through their non-visual senses. Having worked predominantly in traditional performance spaces, I’m excited that this commission can support me in exploring the possibilities of dance performance in non-traditional settings. With access at the core of this work, I hope I can take the work to more sensory impaired and disabled communities in Bradford, Yorkshire and further!

Keep an eye on the Kala Sangam website for updates about the development of both pieces and details of the first performances as part of the Bradford Arts Centre opening season in Autumn 2025.

Categories: General News

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