16th November 2023

Announcing Our New Co-Commission Damaru

We are delighted to announce Sampad South Asian Arts and Heritage will be returning to Serendipity Arts Festival in 2023. Commissioned by Sampad, Serendipity Arts and FABRIC, Damaru will be created in Birmingham and Kolkata by dancers Nilava Sen (India) and Shyam Dattani (UK) and will premiere 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. 

This 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 will 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.

Damaru will be premiering at the prestigious Serendipity Arts Festival, a multi-disciplinary arts event that hopes to instigate positive change across the arts in India. Spanning the visual, performing and culinary arts, the Festival’s programming includes music, dance, visual arts, craft, photography, film, and theatre. 

With Damaru, a performance that delves into the profound symbolism of the damaru in Hindu mythology, we look forward to witnessing a seamless fusion of tradition and modernity. The collaboration between dancers Nilava Sen and Shyam Dattani, along with the musical duo Shadow and Light, and light designer Gyandev Singh, is poised to unlock new dimensions of artistic expression. The invaluable contributions of choreographic mentors Morag Deyes and Tanushree Shankar further enhance the allure of this powerful piece. This collaboration is a celebration of diverse cultures, creative pursuits, and the rich heritage of South Asia.

Smriti Rajgarhia, Director of Serendipity

Also commissioning Damaru are Midlands-based FABRIC, who inspire people through dance, aiming to increase and diversify engagement, encourage creative leadership, develop talent, and celebrate the impact of dance and its place in public life

At the heart of our local to international ambition is the realisation of new dialogues and collaborations across international contexts. This work speaks directly to this, bringing together artists we’re excited about in the UK and in India, to share practice – inspire new ideas and realise new performance works.

Paul Russ, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of FABRIC

Following the successful collaboration of Sampad, Serendipity Arts and FABRIC, Damaru will tour various cities across India before heading to England, where it will captivate audiences across several English venues.

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.