This month, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance brings her latest dance work ‘Contagion’ to six science, art and war-related sites across the UK. The tour opens on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th September at the Gymnasium Gallery in Berwick-upon-Tweed, a former army barracks where soldiers were sent to keep fit during the First World War.
A 40-minute promenade piece, ‘Contagion’ sees Jeyasingh exploring ideas around viral pandemic and the metaphor of the virus conducting a parallel warfare against humans. Her choreography echoes the scientific features of a virus – rapid, random, agile and adaptive – where eight female dancers contort, strategise and mutate as they explore both the resilience and the vulnerability of the human body.
The extraordinary work of artist Egon Schiele, himself a victim of the pandemic, is a powerful footnote to the choreography; his twisted body shapes and expressive lines reflected early understandings of neuro-science and psychology.
In 1918 a Spanish flu pandemic infected one third of the world’s population and killed over 50 million people. Directly exacerbated by troop and civilian migrations from the First World War, the virus killed more people than the war itself.
Shobana Jeyasingh says: “The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 which reaches its centenary this year is beginning to assert itself in our collective memory as one of the most dramatic episodes of global proportions. I very much hope that Contagion will serve as act of commemoration and remembering.”
The performance is free to attend but it is a ticketed event. For further information, head to maltingsberwick.co.uk.