Today we talk to an act that is performing at the Brighton Festival that is happening throughout May. I speak to Choreographer Suba Subramaniam about the show A Weekend Without Walls: Pravaas
Location: Starting Point New Road
Date: 27th & 28th May
Time: 13:45 & 16:30
Ticket Price: Free (but tickets needed)
How did you come up with the name of your show that you are taking to the Brighton Festival?
Pravaas translates as ‘migration’. I travelled to an island called Sagar in West Bengal, India to carry out the research and inspiration for this piece. Sagar is at the forefront of extreme weather like tropical cyclones and flooding because of its location, made worse by climate change. People in these places are compelled or have no choice but to move.
The experience I had there was of loss and hope, community and people, landscapes and shelter, refugees and livelihoods. Through the dance styles of Bharatanatyam and Kathak and live Carnatic vocals, Pravaas coveys the climate induced migration of people, their feelings, ways of being, stories and imagery.
Tell us a little bit about your style of show?
I have been working at the confluence of arts and science for the past 20 years – most of that has been spring the themes of climate change and sustainability. The show is set outdoors and the audience flows with the piece as it migrates through the landscape.
What can people expect from your Brighton Festival performance?
Pravaas is a promenade work across three sites. The audience will watch the work in the round and then move with the dancers and singer. They will be implicit in the migration, by helping to carry the set made of simple bamboo structures. We want the work to be thoughtful and to evoke an emotional response.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?
I am really looking forward to seeing Candoco’s new work by Jamaal Burkmar and Moby Dick by French/Norwegian company Plexus Polaire
How are the rehearsals going?
Rehearsals are going well. We are enjoying working with the bamboo structures and adapting to the way they behave outdoors in the wind and sun. The music is being made collaboratively in the studio as the movement material is being created. It is such a rich and creative space.
Have you done Brighton Festival before? What have been some of your favourite shows to date and why?
We have never been at the festival before but I am a huge fan of Ray Lee’s sound installations that have been at the festival in the past.
What advice would you give to others who want to perform at Brighton Festival next year?
Start your conversations now. Outdoor work especially is a wonderful way to engage audiences and tell your stories.
What are your three favourite things about Brighton?
Beautiful seafront, great alternative shops, diversity
Tell us about your average day on a festival show run?
We arrive at the venue and walk through the route for the 3 sites for the promenade show. We warm up the do a run through with the bamboo structures. After that it’s about getting food, getting into costumes and a proper warm up before the show. As we have 2 shows a day at most venues, it’s really important that the dancers have a break in between. After the shows, it’s dinner, watching any other shows that may be on and an early night especially if there’s a show the next day. If not, we may check out the local night life.
Performing by the sea as well, that surely makes the festival all that much more fun?
As Pravaas is about climate migration, it feels particularly poignant to be performing in Brighton. The sea plays such a big part in people’s livelihoods, homes, travel etc. Climate change induced erratic weather patterns, cyclones and erosion can cause so much disruption to peoples’ lives. So many of these resonances can be seen in Pravaas. It feels special to be here with this work.
Who would be your ultimate dream audience member?
Someone who may not have watched outdoor dance or South Asian dance before, We hope Pravaas will give people an insight into South Asian dance and instil a curiosity about climate migration.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
And finally finish this sentence – ‘you should see our show at Brighton Festival because….
Pravaas is a hopeful piece with emotions and stories woven together by 3 stunning South Asian dancers, a live singer and beautiful big bamboo structures.
Categories: Brighton Fringe 2023, Interview, Music
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