Dance Marathon Journal #5

Ng Yi-Sheng

August 25, 2015




26, 27 August, 8pm


58min, no intermission




Based in New Delhi, MANDEEP RAIKHY is a dance practitioner who explores the relationship between contemporary dance and classical forms of Indian dance, like Bharatanatyam.

Raikhy began studying jazz at age 19 at Danceworx, New Delhi. His subsequent interest in contemporary dance took him to London, where he completed a BA (Hons) in Dance Theatre at Laban Centre. He undertook his first tour with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company, London, and toured with their annual productions from 2005 to 2009. Raikhy was also part of the company’s education outreach team and has extensive teaching experience. Through his work as Managing Director of Gati Dance Forum, Raikhy is currently working towards creating a sustainable environment for contemporary dance practice in India.


What were your initial thoughts on first receiving your corresponding Archive Box?

I sort of knew what was in the Box, but the one thing that surprised me was the form of the Box. The fact that Zan was sending me a cassette tape and a Walkman. It really did seem like there was something in the form; the fact that I was receiving this in 2015, the fact that he had decided to send me his voice on audio cassette: it stood out as something of significance. That was quite charming.

From what you saw of the Archive Box, could you imagine what the ‘original’ dance was like? Have you seen the dance?

I haven’t seen the dance but, from the Archive Box, it’s quite clear what the piece is. I can visualise it – because the archivist-choreographer talks us through in great detail what is happening onstage. The audio cassette contains, literally, an oral representation of the work. I reacted to the fact that it was dictating to me what I should be doing in my response to the work. It’s quite prescriptive, hence I have chosen not to respond to the content. I want to respond to the form of the Archive Box.

How have you prepared for the response presentation?

We have been working on it for a couple of months – we are working on a duet, working specifically with the idea of rotation. It came from the form of the audio cassette as well as the Walkman, the fact that there are two spools and I find it very interesting that the information comes to you when it passes from one spool to the other.

Rotation became the main idea that we began to work on. In some sense, it became the trigger to make the ideas a little bit larger than analogue technology – the fact that you can physically see the structure of the form and the fact that there are mechanics involved – the rotation of the spool and the folding of the cassette into the Walkman; the clicks,

buttons and all of those things are very special. As we get more digital, it ’s all about a lack of form, it’s sort of flattened out. The Walkman has folds and joints and sounds attached to it – and so that became our centralised idea.

How do you archive your work as a dancer and choreographer?

A combination of rehearsal videos and writing. I do a brain-map, in terms of what the centralised idea is, and then populate the wings of these ideas, adding to the centralised ideas. These are added to the documentation at the end of the process – the video-work, the soundscape, all these things. In my choreographic journey, I also make a graph of the piece. A spatial graph, energetic graph, just so I know what the shape of it is.

How has working on this Archive Box project affected your notions of archival?

I think the biggest learning point of this project is the idea of an archive being generative in nature, rather than representative. The fact that you can actually distill the core information, or triggers, of the work and – as what we had discussed in Singapore – the ‘ghost’ of the work. If you are able to trap the ‘ghost’ of the work in another medium – translating it from performance to objects in a box – then the exciting thing is that this is generative. Some other person can use this information and generate new material, so it’s not so much about mummifying or freezing the work. What you’re doing is opening up a conversation that can actually continue beyond the work.

  • 2015