The “divinely gifted artist” (The New York Times), Shantala Shivaligappa will make her Joyce debut with Namasya, a work celebrating her diverse choreographic influences that consists of four solos including one created by Ushio Amagatsu, Sankai Juku’s renowned artistic director, and another choreographed during her residency with Pina Bausch.
In this interview with Time Out New York’s Gia Kourlas, Shivaligappa (who Kourlas calls “one of the most transfixing dancers of our time”) talks about the artists and traditions that have influenced and inspired her. An excerpt follows. Read the full interview here.
Time Out New York: Did you conceive of Namasya as an evening of four solos?
Shantala Shivalingappa: Actually, it came into being at different stages. The first solo that I started working on was the one with Pina Bausch. It was intended for one of Pina’s festivals. This was in homage to a dear friend of hers, who had been very influential and present in my life, and who had just passed away. Somehow the time constraint was such that the solo wasn’t ready for the festival, but we continued to work on it for about three years off and on. I thought, I have this one solo: What can I do with this? I have admired [Ushio] Amagatsu’s work for a very long time. The thing is that he only choreographs for his own company, and he only works with Japanese men.
Time Out New York: How did you approach him?
Shantala Shivalingappa: I knew the person touring his work in France, so I asked, “Do you think I could put this request to him?” And he said, “Well, you know, why not? He appreciates your work and he has seen you dance. Ask him and you’ll get your answer.” [Laughs] I went to see one of [Amagatsu’s] shows when he was in Lyon, and I just candidly put this to him, and he said, “Let me think about it.” And very soon after, he gave me a positive answer. I was absolutely thrilled. The work with Pina, of course, was something that had started a few years before, because I had also worked with her company; it was much more familiar for me. Whereas working with Amagatsu was something completely different, even in terms of body language, movement—just everything. We worked for two weeks. He came into the studio with quite a clear idea of what the solo was going to be; the music was composed. But he left a few areas open for what would come up during our rehearsals. It was a wonderful experience. Unforgettable, really.