dance quartet

Pictures: Simon Richardson

Kantha Katha-K

Amina Khayyam Dance Company

Birmingham Hippodrome


There is no getting away from the fact that as we steadily transition into a post pandemic world, art in any of its many forms is going to reflect the experiences and emotions we all felt during that extraordinary time period. 

Amina Khayyam Dance Company does just that with their latest production Kantha Katha-K, combining dance, live music and art installation. Using ancient Indian traditions of dance and embroidery to express ideas about a very modern situation. 

As a company AKDC is passionate about Outreach, working in and amongst communities, particularly those made up of women with a marginalised voice. So integral is this company outreach that this performance may not have existed without it.

semi dark

As Amina Khayyam explains, the piece was developed through the use of a WhatsApp group during lockdown. In this group women could learn, step-by-step the art of Kantha - an Indian embroidery technique.

The resulting artwork was then incorporated into the performance. Into the art installation that served as part of the set and even onto the beautiful costumes worn by the company and designed by Abeda Begum.

It means that as an audience member you are fully immersed in the stories. The live five piece band including goosebump inducing vocals by Sohini Alam play a score that includes an Indian instrumentation of Borodin’s Nocturne, which was adapted by Jonathan Mayer.

The performance itself is relatively short, just 40 minutes but for a company made up of just four dancers, Jane Chan, Abirami Eswar, Sushma Vala and choreography/director Amina Khayyam, it is 40 minutes wherein they get to show how highly skilled they are. Each dancer displays such a high level of strength and precision, that is remarkable when you consider just how often and how many spins/turns are included in the choreography. I felt dizzy just watching them but if they felt the same it did not show even once. 

The performance space itself transformed the Patrick Studio into a sort of traverse stage. The audience is placed on either side of the floor with the two installations directly opposite and to the side of you. This does mean that some of the action is blocked as you can’t see around the frames and the dancers do travel along the traverse. But it also means that the people sitting opposite you will have a different view of the piece which I think might be the part of the decision behind this? To create an engaging but unique experience. 

Kantha Katha-K is a thoughtful piece of work that is unique in that it reflects and incorporates real life experience. It isn’t groundbreaking, there are no real surprises here but it is noteworthy in that it is a piece that has real heart. The choreography, the performances, the artwork and the intention all share an earnestness that as a whole felt very warming to witness. To 21-09-22

Janine Henderson


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