Location Arts House
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
Cost Pay if you can: $35
A small transaction fee will be charged per order.
Pay if you can: $35
Visual Rating 50%
Two worlds simultaneously bleed: one where gendered violence is endemic and another where Goddesses destroy demons.
Durga is the Goddess of protection, motherhood, and war. Also known as Mariamman and Korravai, Durga is a primordial being of complex multiplicities, recognised as the carrier of feminine strength.
The Durga Chronicles evokes a metaverse in which the Goddess is ruler and destroyer of demons in one world, whilst in another, her kin are assaulted and murdered.
At once a rite of collective mourning and a call to action, The Durga Chronicles remembers the stories of women who have been harmed and harnesses the force of Durga to provoke empowered resistance against gendered violence.
Drawing on contemporary, classical Indian postmodern aesthetics, this rich work uses music, dance and stunning visuals – along with a world first; an exquisite, moving Carnatic choir of 12 women – to create a storytelling experience that operates on a visceral level.
Internationally renowned dancer/choreographer/writer Priya Srinivasan’s works explore issues of social justice. Rooted in South Asian dance practice, her performances make women’s histories visible and have been presented in major festivals across the globe.
Here she is joined by long-time collaborator Philipa Rothfield along with Uthra Vijay, an intergenerational Keerthana Women’s Choir, Hari Sivanesan, Govin Ruben and Marcus Salvagno to explore the ritual power of movement, song and storytelling as a means to incite change.
“An explosion of colour and movement, Sangam pushes in new directions.” Cameron Woodhead, The Age, on Sangam Festival
“Priya Srinivasan brought a unique inter-cultural and interdisciplinary collaboration with an ensemble of respected cultural leaders and world-renowned artistes/performers from rural and urban backgrounds, from two of the most ancient civilisations in the world.” Kumuda Chandrasekharan, The Hindu, on Churning Waters
Artist Statement (Content Warning)
Gendered violence is endemic and remains under-addressed in the artistic landscape. On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. 1 in 3 Australian women (30.5%) has experienced physical violence since the age of 15. 10,350 cases of rape and assault were reported in Victoria in 2021 out of an additional 30,000 believed to be unreported. Bringing South Asian forms in experimental ways of knowing, The Durga Chronicles allows us to engage with this issue through referencing the feminine power that emerges from ancient stories and mythology. The goddess (Durga/Mariamman/Korravai) is a living entity deeply connected to community, land, and nature, manifested and celebrated today through song and movement by Hindu and Tamil people wherever they go. This work brings these understandings of multiplicity into a contemporary and experimental experience to see how knowledges that are oral, textual, ritual, and embodied can provoke action.
The Durga Chronicles attends to the demons who destroy “everyday” women today through rape and/or murder told through a collaborative feminist lens enabling us to see two worlds simultaneously. In one, women are raped, choked, strangled, smothered, silenced, beheaded, dismembered, brutalised, and violated in dehumanising ways, and in another The Primordial Female Principle - who is both human and non-human, multi-armed and weaponised, benign and rageful when required - will annihilate demonic action in all its form of greed, lust, desire, rapaciousness, and violence when summoned. It asks the question: do these worlds bleed and blur and if so, how can the potential power of the Female Principle through collective action enable change?
- Priya Srinivasan and Philipa Rothfield
Original Concept and Artistic Director: Priya Srinivasan
Co-Performance Director and Co-Choreographer: Priya Srinivasan
Co-Performance Director and Co-Choreographer: Philipa Rothfield
Composer, Arrangement and Choir Musical Director: Uthra Vijay
Composer, Arrangement and Musician: Hari Sivanesan
Production Design: Govin Ruben
Filmmaker: Marcus Salvago
Dancer and Collaborator (on film): Priyadarsini Govind
Dancer: Priya Srinivasan
Choir: Keerthana Music School
Lead Choir Performer: Uthra Vijay
Choir Performers: Janani Ganeshan, Jayashree Shenvi, Lakshmi Suthakar, Latha Ravi, Mythili Srinivasan, Nandini Venkat Subramoney, Rama Subramanian, Savitha Bingekar, Sharda Symons, Sumathy Raja, Vijayanthi Ravi
Producers: Insite Arts (Jason Cross and Beth Raywood Cross)
The Durga Chronicles has been co-commissioned by Arts House and MAV through Diasporas; and has also received generous support from Abbotsford Convent through their Pivot residency program. The Durga Chronicles has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and the City of Melbourne through Arts House.
From 30 Jun 2021
Diasporas is created for, by and with diverse creatives as an artistic intervention to increase visibility, participation and equity in the arts towards a new arts ecology. More than a festival, Diasporas holds space for the interrogation and development of arts and cultural practice with diverse artists and communities. Diasporas is a springboard for building culture, connection and knowledge and a training ground for the next generation of producers, designers, technicians, and creatives.
Dancer, Choreographer and Writer
Priya Srinivasan is a dancer/choreographer/writer whose performances work towards social justice issues. She has choreographed several solo, duet, ensemble and large-scale projects internationally and nationally for festivals and has collaborated on major projects with the Hermitage Museum Amsterdam, Berlin Wall Memorial, Rockbund Art Museum Shanghai, Typografia Gallery Romania, Showroom Gallery London, Dakshina Chitra and Spaces Chennai, Adishakti Puducherry, Highways Los Angeles, DCA Darwin, Dancehouse and Bunjil Place. Her large span of intercultural work focuses primarily on feminist collaborations most notable of which is “Churning Waters” a feminist Indigenous Indian work which was selected to tour India for Australia Festival and more recently a series of hybrid online and live performance works with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. She is also the author of the award winning book “Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labour.” She is the co-Artistic Director of Sangam: Performing Arts Platform and Festival of South Asia and Diaspora which she founded in 2019 featuring over 200 artists on funded platforms as a corrective to the lack of opportunities for artists of colour in Melbourne.
Philipa Rothfield is a philosopher working in relation to and through dance on Wurundjeri land. She is a feminist academic, reviews dance, and practises a number of movement modalities, including improvisation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Yoga. She was a member of Margaret Lasica’s Modern Dance Ensemble. She is the author of Dance and the Corporeal Uncanny (Routledge, 2021), Co-Editor of the Dancehouse Diary, and Creative Advisor at Dancehouse. She is the Chair of the Green Room Awards Dance Panel, and has served as Judge of Dance and Physical Theatre for the Melbourne Fringe Festival. She holds a number of academic positions at Melbourne and La Trobe Universities, currently teaches in Dance, at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University and is an honorary professor at the University of Southern Denmark.
Classical Singer and Composer
Uthra Vijay is a classical singer and composer based in Melbourne and director of the Keerthana Music School and Keerthana Women’s Choir. She is a co-curator of Sangam: Performing Arts Festival of South Asia and Disapora. She has participated in several festivals such as Mapping Melbourne, Jaipur Literary Festival and AsiaTOPA and worked nationally and internationally establishing herself as a much sought out artist in the South Asian arts scene. She has worked extensively on site specific intra and intercultural performances with Iranian, Yiddish, Surinamese, Flamenco and Indigenous singers in Melbourne, London, Hamburg, Berlin, Amsterdam, Chennai, Bangalore and Barcelona.
Composer and Multi-instrumentalist
Composer and multi-instrumentalist, Hari Sivanesan of Sri Lankan origin trained in the UK and is a unique representation of Indian classical-contemporary artists of international acclaim. He has pioneered projects in partnership with BBC Radio & TV, BBC Proms, WOMAD, Royal Opera House and Multicultural Arts Victoria and is co-Artistic Director of Sangam, Performing Arts Festival of South Asia.