Talking Moves Series 5 Episode 2: Working Across Genres

Talking Moves | 13 May 2022

In this episode, we talk to Harriet Waghorn and Kamala Devam about their experience working across different genres of dance.

As dancers we often train in streams of dance genres – often there are expected routes mapped out for us and aesthetics we are expected to achieve. It’s therefore refreshing to find artists whose work transcends those divides, fuses aspects of styles together to make new aesthetics, new vocabulary. What does that mean in terms of training for themselves, as well as making work, working with dancers who may not have the same experiences?

We begin by asking our guests how they came to find dance – both Kamala and Harriet mention their mothers and how they facilitated their first steps on their journeys. We discuss their training and how they came to build their experience across the genres of contemporary, ballroom, Bharatanatyam, acrobatics and contact improvisation.

We ask our guests why are they drawn to the styles in which they work, and how stepping away from the usual framing of genres and fusing other styles relates to their audiences. we find similarities that may not be obvious such as the constant flow and trust that is needed in both contact improvisation as well as ballroom – and how important the connection with your partner is.

We move on to discuss their own teaching practices and what they are looking for in dancers when they choreograph work. The importance of training is a huge part of any dancer and artists life and we discuss how they train across such different genres of dance.

Finally, we are intrigued to hear what’s next for our two artists on their journey working across genres.

Who's Who

Kamala Devam. A woman with long blonde hair woven into a braid

Kamala Devam

Kamala Devam is a London-based, multi-lingual dance artist, choreographing, performing and teaching in the United Kingdom and United States. Because she was raised in an orthodox Hindu community in Northern California, she grew up training in Bharatanatyam (South Indian classical dance) for thirteen years with Katherine and K.P. Kunhiraman. After discovering contemporary dance, she received her B.A. in Choreography and Performance at San Francisco State University in 2001 and she toured the US and Mexico with California Contemporary Dancers.

Kamala moved to the UK in 2004 to pursue a full-time career in dance. She’s performed for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony with Akram Khan Company, toured internationally for over 8 years with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance and worked with many companies (English National Opera, Akademi, Neon Dance, KalpanArts, ATMA Dance, Sadhana Dance Company, etc.) and independent choreographers (Jose Agudo, Luca Silvestrini, Seeta Patel, Merav Israel, Stephanie Shoeber, etc.) She’s collaborated with choreographer/dancer Seeta Patel on a multi award-winning dance film The Art of Defining Me (2013) and toured duet works (Alter Ego, 2007 and Last One Standing, 2009) and her own solo (FretLess, 2010) in Europe and the US. Kamala is currently an Associate Lecturer at the University of East London and University of Surrey, teaching Indian movement forms and contemporary technique on undergraduate degree programmes, and is an internationally commissioned choreographer for university and youth dance companies.

Kamala formed Kamala Devam Company in January 2016 to further explore the continuum between western and Indian aesthetics, themes and movement forms, with inspirations ranging from her lifetime of experience in Bharatanatyam and contemporary dance, to the explosive qualities of acrobatics and kalaripayattu (Indian martial arts). Her company shows and education work are supported by Arts Council England, UK dance organisations and theatre and university residencies. KDC embarked on its first UK tour in Autumn 2018 with the show Ankusha and Other Mysteries which received critical acclaim. The company looks forward to completing and touring Kamala’s newest work ensemble “Centrica” which completed two R&D periods before the pandemic and the birth of her first child in 2020.

Kamala’s most recent work includes choreographing for the original opera “Sophie” which premiered in London’s Tete-a-Tete Opera Festival and setting a work on The Place’s Shift Youth Dance Company which was recently performed at U.Dance Festival at Stratford Circus.
Harriet Waghorn. A woman with short swept back blonde hair and a nose ring

Harriet Waghorn

Harriet is a London based choreographer, performer and director. Harriet’s choreographic credits include Netflix, BFI, Sky Arts, Vice, Nowness and internationally exposed viral dance films ‘Abaddon’ and ‘Edifice’ which collectively have views of over 12 million.

In 2021 Harriet was awarded one of 3 places with Akram Khan Company for Artistic Development in choreography for her work with her company EDIFICE co-directed by Carmine De Amicis and Internationally renowned Latin dance mentor Nancy Berti.

EDIFICE was founded in 2015 and creates works for the stage, film and immersive experiences touring international and throughout the UK. EDIFICE’s unique combination of ballroom and contemporary makes it different from any other company working in the UK offering sensoring works that challenge ideas of gender, sexuality, and form. As a performer Harriet has worked with companies including Shobana Jeyasingh and has performed at the Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells, Edinburgh Festival Hall, Tate Modern and has toured internationally.

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