October 9 2007 at 20.00
Teatru Manoel, Valletta
"A sexual ambiguity pervades whenever Khoo is on….”
The Independent, UK
“The charismatic Khoo”
Taipei Times, Taiwan
“What makes Mavin’s dance so authentic in spirit is the involvement”
The Hindu, India
“Khoo de THEATRE!”
Evening Standard, UK
The solo dancer embarks on a singular journey. Through five works, he carries the emotional strand that stand as a metaphoric representation of ‘love in separation’. The dancer, is a representation of the mortal yearning to be united with the Infinite Spirit-the God Absolute. It is through the celebration of this love framed within the eroticism of desired consummation, that the contemporary present is driven into a web of emotions. In Solo: Bharata Natyam by Mavin Khoo and international vocalist Pushkala Gopal, these colours of emotions become the omnipresent basis for a timeless journey of love.
For booking information please contact Teatru Manoel Booking Office: tel. 21246389 or email; email@example.com
Mavin Khoo will be present for Q&A session. The entrance is free of charge.
A story of ritual, sex, sexuality and relationships, through the life and work of one of the UK’s most exciting dancers (London Evening Standard).
Described by The Guardian as "half god half tart", Khoo takes us on a journey through his life as an artist, a dancer and as an out gay man looking for love. Childhood memories and ritual reflect every aspect of his life, in dance and relationships. Khoo shares his intimate thoughts about sublimity and existence in his eclectic dance world. Loneliness and craving to be loved contrast the man who always takes life to the extreme. Challenging stereotypes of dance and dancers, Khoo is a totally unique androgynous creature that moves beautifully.
Filmed on the streets, dressing rooms, theatres and clubs of London and Venice the film juxtaposes the private life of Khoo with his extraordinary diverse dance work.
Produced and directed by Phil Maxwell and Hazuan Hashim in 2006, this film pushes the boundaries of the documentary genre and gives a taste of the feature length version currently in production. This will include Mavin in India and interviews with leading lights from the dance world.
was born in Malaysia where he began his dance studies, eventually training in India, the USA and Britain. He studied Bharata Natyam with the legendary dance maestro, Padma Shri Adyar K.Lakshman in India, Cunningham at the Cunningham studios in New York and Classical Ballet under the direct tutelage of Marian st. Claire, Michael Beare and Nancy Kilgour.
An established dancer and choreographer, he has worked in collaboration with Wayne McGregor (Encoder, 1997), Akram Khan (No Male Egos, 1999) Chris Bannermen(Cast in Stone, 2000) and others. He has danced with Sankalpam, Random, City Ballet of London and Shobana Jeyasingh dance companies in the UK. He has also toured as guest artist with Ballet de Zaragoza and Ballet de Regensburg.
Commissioned works include creations for the National Youth Dance Company (2000),London Studio Centre’s Jazz Company (2001, 2003, 2005), Union Dance (2005) and Blue-Cube Promotions (2006).
Images in Varnam (2001) that was commissioned by the Royal Ballet Artists Development Initiative was then followed by another ROH2 commission, Let me…with Royal Ballet dancer Kristen McNally, American countertenor Michael Harper and pianist John Sweeney.
As a bharata natyam soloist, Khoo has toured the world. He was recently honoured by the prestigious Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai) for his Bharata Natyam performance work.
His own company mavinkhooDance was founded in 2003, with its first international touring production Parallel Passions. This was followed by Chandra/Luna (2004-2005), that was also performed in Malta, Devi: the Female Principle (2006) and Strictly Bharata Natyam (2006).
Independent film “Mavin Khoo: A Portrait” was recently screened at the London Lesbian and Gay Festival.
Indian Classical Dance is often veiled by an exotic mythical cloud that feeds the desire to place anything Indian within the boundaries of ancient tradition. Yet, it is important to recognise the fact that there is no single entity as Indian Classical Dance. After all, with the cultural expanse of the nation, so too has each part of India developed its own sense of artistic identity. The forms of Kathak, Manipuri and Odissi have become the pride of the north whilst the south has richly nurtured the styles of Kathakali, Mohiniattam, Kuchipudi and Bharata Natyam.
The South Indian region of Tamil Nadu was once richly patronised for the arts. In the early 1800’s, there was an active effort to develop a codified movement language for the dances that were being performed in the royal courts as well as a part of daily temple rituals. These were solely performed by a community known as Devadasi (servant of God). Hence, the efforts of four brothers the Tanjore Quartet, who were musicians in the royal court of Tanjore evolved into a dance style known as Sadir or Dasi Attam.
This community of temple dancers, as they were known, was made up of a matriarchal structure whereby the women held their households together. One had to be born into the lineage after which the young girl would be initiated into dance. This would be followed by the ritualistic rite of marriage to the deity of the temple. Hence after, the girl would be eternally married to the deity and bear the auspicious faith of destiny as a nitya sumangali (eternally auspicious).
The deavadasi’s duties lay primarily in temple duties where she would dance and perform specific rites for the deity. In addition, she would also perform in the palace court. This became predominantly evident during the period of the Tanjore Quartet who were creatively making great music repertoires made specifically for dance.
Within the social framework, it was the fact that she could theoretically never be widowed that made the Devadasi a favourable figure in the community. In addition to that, these women were educated and wealthy, receiving land and jewellery from patrons. Their relationships with these patrons were how they continued their lineage as their ritual marriage to the temple made it impossible for them to have actual husbands.
The unique social structure of this particular collective became highly scrutinised with the invasion of Christian missionaries, the development of the Independence movement and the subconscious implementation of Victorian morality in India. By the beginning of the 20th century, the art of Sadir was hardly to be found with the Devadasi community tarnished into unjustified banishment. Many of these great artists were reduced to labour work or prostitution. Dance had become associated with what from a point of morality was not socially accepted.
The faith of Dance in South India was to be challenged by the arrival of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. The dancer had by then developed an infatuation with the exoticism of the East. At about the same time, a young Brahmin girl named Rukmini Devi had embraced the teachings of the theosophist Annie Besant. She had further created controversy by marrying an English man twice her age, Dr. Arundale. It was while accompanying her husband on his many discourses on theosophy that she witnessed Pavlova dancing her signature solo, The Dying Swan. The combination of the sublime with the spiritual hit a cord and before long Rukmini Devi was taking ballet lessons from Cleo Nordi, one of Pavlova’s dancers. However, destiny was to take its course when Pavlova advised her to return to India and revive the great lineage that had by now become a dying art.
Rukmini Devi sought out the great masters, many of whom were initially reluctant to teach her as they considered her too old and out of the Devadasi caste. Her persistence however, was unnerving and to the shock ad disparagement of the high caste Brahmin community opened an institute Kalakshetra with the support of her husband, Annie Besant and the Theosophy Society. The role of dance as a form of spiritual otherworldliness slowly convinced a few Brahmins to send their daughters to the institute. Talent scouts were sent out in search of talented young boys whose families would be grateful for the economic security that would be provided by housing and educating them. She took in many of the great teachers of Sadir and worked at reworking the codified units of dance that were taught to her and her students. It was here, that her vast cultural and intellectual exposure proved an important instigator as she redefined the aesthetics of the style. The emphasis on line, physical precision, romanticism of spirit and choreography in full length ballets all show the influence of her initial classical training in ballet.
Eventually, the name Sadir that had by now been tarnished with too many preconceived notions was changed. Bharata Natyam was to be the new dance form of Tamil Nadu providing a new chapter to its past.