October 10, 2021 18:00
in collaboration with Fondazione Teatro della Toscana
In Shantala Shivalingappa’s name we find Shiva, the lord of dance. According to the texts, Shiva has over one thousand names. He is the god of creation and destruction. Lord of cremation grounds, his body is covered with ash. Shantala Shivalingappa’s dance revolves around the figure of this god, whose vibration gives rise to the rhythm of the world.
I asked Shantala if she wanted to experience ash. Ash is not merely the solid residue of perfect combustion : it is a process. Ash is a fertiliser. It is part of a cycle of death and birth. Ash therefore possesses the potentiality of life. Is this why it is sacred in India, why cremation grounds have a particular energy, why life and death are but one and the same in the cycle of reincarnations? What does Shiva do? He destroys and he dances.
I met Shantala Shivalingappa in 2008, in the corridors of the theatre, in Dusseldorf with Pina Bausch. It was the last “Drei Wochen mit Pina” festival. Shantala danced with Pina Bausch in Nefés, she also presented a solo, as well as a duet with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. It was there that Shantala saw Plus ou moins l’infini (More Or Less, Infinity). It was a time of strong convergence that seems almost unreal to me, considering that it brought together a number of elements which were going to be significant to my path and to that of Shantala’s. Something was going to die here and something else was going to be reborn.
Shantala’s dance is moulded by this journey between Kuchipudi and Pina Bausch, between India and Europe, between Shiva and Dionysus, who are said to be incarnations of the same deity, Shiva having lived on in Hindu mythology while Dionysus, swept aside by monotheistic religions, was gradually forgotten in Europe, a wandering god, god of theatre. Shantala constantly travels back and forth between Madras where she was born, and Paris where she lives. Her dance mirrors this perpetual swinging, somewhere between Hindu mysticism and quantum physics.
I pictured Shantala Shivalingappa dancing on ash for aSH, the title of which is made up of the initials and last letters of her name. aSH is the final opus in the trilogy of portraits of women, ten years after it began in 2008 with Questcequetudeviens? (What’s Become of You ?), followed by Plexus in 2012. In this trilogy, my starting point is not space, which is my usual subject matter in theater, but a woman, a person who has her own story. This trilogy is about a living being unfolding through dance. With aSH, Shantala Shivalingappa dances beyond herself. In a set designed from ash and vibrations, she incarnates Shiva who propels the world into manifesting and allows space to dance.
– Aurélien Bory