Commissioned by Sampad, Serendipity Arts and FABRIC, Damaru was created in Birmingham and Kolkata by dancers Nilava Sen (India) and Shyam Dattani (UK) and premiered on the 17th December 2023 at Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, India.
Shaping the creative pulse of this project, the Damaru is a traditional percussion instrument originating from South Asia, which bears multifaceted religious and cultural underpinnings and is a symbolism of the many facets of life.
The performance fuses movement and musical energies to explore the symbolism of the instrument, illuminating spiritual and human relationships and the interplay of duality between creation and destruction, silence and sound, attraction and aggression.
The creative minds behind Damaru are dancers Nilava Sen and Shyam Dattani. Shyam Dattani is a London-based Kathak dancer and maker who has been training with Urja Desai Thakore at Pagrav Dance Company since 2016 and was the South Asian Dance category winner of BBC Young Dancer 2017. His practice shifts thinking around the innate gender roles within Kathak movement. Nilava Sen is a devotee and lifelong learner of the Uday Shankar Technique of Dance and Bharatanatyam and is currently training under the tutelage of renowned Guru Smt. Tanusree Shankar and Smt. Rama Vaidyanathan. Nilava has performed on many prestigious platforms, notably Nalanda Nrityotsava, Mumbai; Mudra Dance Festival at NCPA Mumbai and Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa.
The dancers, under the mentorship of Morag Deyes and Tanushree Shankar bring their artistic prowess, creativity, and interpretations to Damaru, collaborating with the musical duo Shadow and Light (Anindo Bose and Pavithra Chari). The contemporary-classical duo have written and independently released three critically-acclaimed studio albums and their original song Dua features in the Berklee Indian Ensemble’s album Shuruaat, nominated for a Grammy in the Best Global Album category. This union of old and new promises to push the boundaries of creativity. Completing the artistic team is the accomplished lighting designer Gyandev Singh.
Following the successful collaboration of Sampad, Serendipity Arts and FABRIC, Damaru will tour various cities across India before heading to England in 2024.
Sampad is thrilled to collaborate once more with Serendipity and FABRIC. Damaru represents an exhilarating new creation that reaffirms Sampad’s fundamental conviction: that fostering international collaboration and sharing talent is immensely advantageous for the arts globally. We look forward to welcoming the piece to England after its tour in India
Piali Ray, Director of Sampad
As an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO), we are grateful for the funding provided by taxpayers, which plays a huge part in supporting our work. We also receive kind support from Birmingham City Council.