Presented by Arts House as part of FRAME: a biennial of dance
Produced by Performing Lines
Wednesday 1 – Saturday 4 March 2023
Wed – Fri, 6.30pm
Sat, 1pm & 6.30pm
Tactile Tour and Audio Described performance
Fri 3 March, 6.30pm
Post Show Q&A
Thursday 2 March, 9.30pm
Join Amrit Gill in conversation with Raghav Handa and Raina Peterson
FRAME Pass $28
A small transaction fee will be charged per order.
To see Raghav Handa’s TWO and Raina Peterson’s MOHINI for $50, use the code DOUBLE and add both shows to cart
The work is suitable for children but likely to appeal to audiences 12+
TWO contains loud music, flashing lights and lights that change colour and intensity
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
An intercultural, inter-generational bromance between a dancer and musician tests the limits of tradition.
In the Kathak tradition of classical Indian dance, a drummer takes control while a dancer follows their lead. In TWO this fundamental rule is put to the test, as dancer Raghav Handa and maestro tabla musician Maharshi Raval explore the ways in which traditional power dynamics and conventional roles can be upended in the pursuit of creativity.
For close to ten years Raghav and Maharshi have built a friendship defined – and sometimes challenged – by Kathak’s hierarchy of musician and dancer. Can that friendship survive a radical experiment in creative disruption? Can Kathak?
Fusing powerful physicality with virtuosic performance, TWO is a dynamic, energetic dance celebration imbued with a playful spirit and zest. Conversational and intimate, it’s a candid exploration of the process of art-making and the interplay between artists.
TWO is a witty, personal work about an inter-generational, intercultural relationship. It explores the possibility of respectfully breaking with tradition, and asks what is gained and lost along the way. It’s a piece about making space, relinquishing power and truly collaborating.
“Raghav Handa takes the traditional Kathak dance recital, already informal in its improvisational interplay between dancer and musician, a bold step further, playing it out as a witty, intimate ‘real-life’ encounter shared with the audience.” Real Time Arts
As Maharshi is a musician there are certain rules that exist between him and I in a classical performance context that may not be visible to a lot of people.
For example, I can’t get changed in front of him, and there are certain things I can’t say in front of him. It would be unthinkable for me to touch his instrument, and for him to enter my space as a dancer. That being said, we cannot let go of the fact that I am a contemporary dancer and a choreographer, and at the end of the day I am making works in a Western context where going against the rules is not a particularly unusual thing. So, challenging the rules of classical dance might be quite an easy thing to approach for me, but for Maharshi it may not be, given his training and personal practice comes from a very different discipline and perspective. In this way TWO is a very personal work about the two of us, and Kathak is a set of principles we use to explore and understand our personalities and relationship. I think it’s important when audiences view the work to remember that it’s fundamentally about two people. In TWO I’m creating a physicality and a language as I go along, and that’s my overall aim as an Australian choreographer. Kathak provides us with a set of principles that we can interact with in the pursuit of creating something and exploring our relationship, as dancer and musician. The audience has to be open enough to view this work as a work of two people from different backgrounds, both culturally – in that we’re from different states and don’t speak a common language (our only common language is English) – and in our performance backgrounds. If you view the work as a work that is looking at a relationship dynamic, I hope you’ll see that it’s a piece that asks what it is like to make space for others; what it is like to share; what it is like to give up your power and to collaborate.
About the artists
Trained in contemporary dance, Raghav Handa draws on the principles of Indian Kathak to create multifaceted, engaging explorations of modern Australian identity. His works challenge cultural and contemporary norms by navigating the “preciousness” & complexities that surround traditional hierarchies and by utilising his Indian heritage to create spaces that foster robust discussion & risk taking – he encourages his audience to come to their own conclusions rather than imposing his own. His creations are novel, engaging and often playful, but he also likes to play with fire!
He has worked with choreographers and companies including: Vicki Van Hout, Marylin Miller, Martin Del Amo, Sue Healey, Force Majeure, The National Theatre of Parramatta, Contemporary Asian Australian Performance and Griffin Theatre. His works have been presented across Australia and internationally including: (2022) Keir Choreographic Award Carriageworks, Liveworks Festival Performance Space, Darwin Festival; (2021) OzAsia Adelaide; (2020) New Breed Sydney Dance Company, Unwrapped The Sydney Opera House, Asia TOPA and Sydney Festivals with CAAP; Rich Mix London, Dunedin Festival New Zealand and Melbourne Dancehouse.
Maharshi Raval is a musician and maestro tabla player from Benaras Gharana (school) living in Sydney. Raval started his initial tabla training from his grandfather Late Shri Gajanan Rabal and then joined Saptak School of Music and continued to learn under the tutelage of Late Pt. Nandan Mehta who was a disciple of the legend of Benaras Gharana Padma Vibhushan Late Pt. Kishen Maharaj. He has been learning for the last 34 years.
Raval has travelled extensively to various parts of the world as a soloist and an accompanist to Indian classical vocalists, instrumentalists and Kathak dancers, and won first prize for National Youth Festival Tabla Competition. He has also performed at Saptak Festival’s concerts quite often in front of audiences including Pt. Kishan Maharaj, Ustad Shahid Parvez, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pt. Rajan-Sajan Mishra, Late Ustad Allarakha Khan, Pt. Ronu Majumdar, and many more.
Raval conducted and directed the tabla recital of 100 students aged between three to 16 years for Indian Heritage Day, has performed in Australian national television shows like X-Factor with India Rose on Channel 7, and in Good News Week with Sarangan on Channel 10.
Raval runs a music institute called Shree Gajanan Cultural Mission – The Institute of Indian Classical Music and Dance at various locations in Sydney like Parramatta, Westmead, Cherrybrook, Castle Hill, and Hornsby. Here, he teaches students in group and individual classes.
Tabla Player and Performer: Maharshi Raval
Dramaturg: Julie-Anne Long
Designer: Justine Shih Pearson
Lighting Designer: Karen Norris
LED Frame Construction: Alejandro Rolandi
Produced by: Performing Lines
TWO is produced by Performing Lines. This project is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW and originally presented by FORM Dance Projects as part of Dance Bites 2021 at Riverside Theatres.
Image Credit: Joseph Mayers
Image Description: Raghav Handa, an Indian Australian man wearing blue jeans, a red t-shirt and an open blue linen overshirt dances on stage. He is leaning as he dances and is moving so fast he must support himself with his left hand on the ground so as not to fall over. His shirt billows behind him. He is lit by squares of multicoloured light from overhead. Behind him, sat on a squat plinth, Maharshi Raval, also an Indian Australian man, plays a Tabla. He is lit entirely with green light.