Parramasala Festival


Date: 2 November – 3 November 2011, 7:30PM – 8:35PM
Venue: Riverside Theatre, Riverside Theatres

“When Indian performers Shaji John and Tishani Doshi did a duet that was a slow-motion act of love in yoga postures, it was enough to throw afficionados back in their seats.” Toronto Star

Chandralekha was a trailblazer of Indian contemporary dance.  When she died four years ago at the age of 78, she was a towering figure whose body of work and creative ideas challenged the traditional notions of what constituted classical dance in India. An influence on the likes of Pina Bausch and Susanne Linke, she controversially discarded the devotional elements of dance for passionate, body-oriented movements. And the result was electrifying.

Until now, Chandralekha’s iconoclastic work has never been seen live in Australia, and Sharira is considered her masterpiece – a blend of contemporary dance, yoga and Kalaripayattumartial arts from Kerala which expresses the earthy, the erotic and the elemental.

This exclusive season features the two artists with whom Chandralekha originally created Sharira. The man, Shaji John, is the martial arts expert; the woman Tishani Doshi is a Welsh/Indian writer, poet and dancer. Their dance is accompanied by live singing from The Gundecha Brothers, India’s leading exponents of the Dhrupad style of music.
What once may have been looked on as obscene, can now be savoured as a masterly execution of the subtle beauty of restrained erotica.


(Keralan Martial Arts) Workshop
Shaji John (India)

Shaji John will conduct an exciting workshop during the festival based on the physical discipline of ‘Kalarippayattu’ – a martial/therapeutic form from the South Indian state of Kerala.

Kalaripayattu is an ancient, holistic, physical discipline from Kerala and is believed by many to be the original ‘martial art’. It combines the dynamic skills of attack and defense and the power of secret knowledge of the body, with a scientific system of healing and therapy based on allied disciplines, including Ayurveda.

Shaji John is a student of Vasu Gurukkal, one of India’s renowned gurus of kalaripayattu.

Kalaripayattu is as much a ‘therapeutic’ form as it is a ‘martial art’ and is now widely practised by dancers in India. In fact, it was the choreographic work of Chandralekha that has promoted the performance dimension of this form.

Experience Required: This workshop will suit people interested in dance, gymnastics, martial arts and yoga. The workshop involved strenuous exercise. For ages 12 and up.

Preparation: Participants should wear loose exercise clothing. The workshop will be conducted barefoot.

Class size limited to 30 people.

Date: Saturday 5 November
Time: 10am to 12pm
Cost: $25
Venue: Connect Studios, 162 Church Street, Parramatta
Bookings: or (02)8839 3399


Date: 1 November 2011
Venue: Riverside Theatre, Riverside Theatres

“Mavin Khoo is one of the most sculpturally exact of dancers, making exquisite musical and visual contrasts out of glittering velocity and meditative slowness.” The Guardian

One of the world’s most exciting male solo dancers, trained in both classical Indian styles and western contemporary dance, collaborates with one of India’s most gifted Carnatic singers and musicians.

Mavin Khoo is a brilliant dancer and choreographer in high demand around the globe. He has collaborated and danced with some of the major choreographers of today including Akram Khan, Wayne McGregor and Christopher Bannerman. Challenging notions of gender and tradition, Khoo’s original ideas and light-catching technique make him one of the world’s most fascinating artists in his genre.

O.S. Vaidyanathan or Arun, as he is more popularly called, is internationally acclaimed for the sonorous voice with which he exquisitly interprets devotional music with exhilarating musical personality and artistic purity.


Introduction to Bharata Natyam Dance
Mavin Khoo (MALAYSIA)

Led by international soloist Mavin Khoo, this workshop is an introduction to the South Indian classical dance form of Bharata Natyam. Khoo’s own diverse training (Bharata Natyam, Classical Ballett and Cunningham technique) has led to major collaborative works with the likes of Akram Khan and Wayne McGregor. His teaching spans traditional Bharata Natyam pedagogy to contemporary ballett and contemporary dance.

The workshop will provide a glimpse into the virtuosic demands of the Bharata Natyam style and the narrative exploration that the style employs.

Participants will be provided with:

i) a brief historical introduction
ii) a warm-up session that will lead to a technique class
iii) an exploration of narrative through explorative text
iv) a creative session whereby participants will create their own material

Beginning his training at Kuala Lumpur’s Temple of Fine Arts and then on to London and New York, Khoo’s main studies were under renowned dance maestro Padma Shri Adyar K. Lakshman in Chennai, India. He also studied Odissi and Bharata Natyam under Ramli Ibrahim, one of the original dancers of Sydney Dance Company. Challenging notions of gender and tradition, Khoo’s original ideas and techniques make him one of the world’s most in-demand artists in his genre.

Experience Required: Participants should have either ballett or contemporary dance background equivalent to intermediate standard or above. For ages 16 and over.

Preparation: The session is danced barefoot.

Class sizes limited to 30 people.

Date: Wednesday 2 November
Time: 4pm to 6pm
Cost: $25
Venue: Parramatta Town Hall
Bookings: or (02)8839 3399

Mavin Khoo performs his acclaimed solo work, Devi in Absolution , on Tuesday 1 November at Riverside Theatres, with the famous Carnatic singer OS Arun and his group.

For more information about Parramasala workshops, go to the Parramasala website