Bicycle in the Sky
"...a back-and-forth dynamic dialogue...creating a “story” of sorts about what her mind sees and hears. It's a captivating theatrical presentation!"
— Critical Dance
Bicycle in the Sky is a duet between two award-winning artists of South Asian heritage. Choreographer Preeti Vasudevan and composer Kamala Sankaram challenge the audience to creatively reimagine gender and cultural impact by exploring early works created between Merce Cunningham and John Cage based on Indian theater vocabulary.
Image Credit: Andrés Mercado, 2022
The performance dialogues with three fundamental areas of interpretation between a South Asian aesthetic and Cunningham’s own fascination that there are no fixed points in space:
The work in particular revolves around Cunningham and Cage’s early experiments with Indian dance-theater. In 1951 Cunningham and Cage created a work called 16 Dances for Soloist and Company of Three where Cunningham first used his now famous chance operations. This piece was drawn from his research on the nine emotional states in Indian dance-theater called Nava Rasas.
Bicycle in the Sky piece "Conversations with Cunningham & Cage" at Flea Theater
Image Credit: Andrés Mercado, 2022
"Conversations with Cunningham & Cage" a piece from Bicycle in the Sky premiered in November 2022 at the Flea Theater. The development and premiere was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Harkness Foundation.
"Conversations with Cunningham & Cage" is the first part of a full evening work between composer Kamala Sankaram and choreographer Preeti Vasudevan. The two artists challenge the audience to rethink cultural impact in creativity by drawing aleatory comparisons to the early works created between Merce Cunningham and John Cage based on the nine emotional states in Indian theater. The work this evening explores the emotions of love, surprise, fear, peace and anger.
Bicycle in the Sky piece "Chance and Chaos" at NYPL
Preeti Vasudevan: Artistic Director/Choreographer
Award-winning choreographer and cultural storyteller Preeti Vasudevan's provocative theatrical works redefine individual identity, uniting artists and audiences alike. Her creations have been lauded as a refreshing collision of eastern and western aesthetics pushing for a new expression in art-making. Using just about every mode of the performing arts (including dance, music, poetry, visual art, mime, and theater), Preeti invites cutting-edge collaborators to form a 21st-century language of expression. Her unconventional storytelling challenges the status quo of dance-theater, bridging ancient traditions with the contemporary world.
Known for igniting groundbreaking artistic partnerships, Preeti frequently collaborates with celebrated artists such as legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Guggenheim awardee Paul Kaiser and with leading ensembles like Silkroad. Preeti’s works have been commissioned by distinguished institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Art NY, Glimmerglass Opera Festival NY, Guggenheim’s Works & Process NY, New Victory Theater NY, Morph Dance Company UK, and The Alliance Francaise, among others. She has been invited to sit on panels at the National Endowment for the Arts US, US Consulate panel on women creatives, Joyce Theater, and Asian American Arts Alliance.
Preeti’s vibrant international career has brought her to the world’s stages as a performer, curator, and thought leader. From her early start as an award-winning classical artist from India to receiving a cultural scholarship as International Choreographer in Residence at the American Dance Festival, she has emerged as an artist to watch by leading global institutions where she has been in residence. Her works have been supported by prominent organizations like TED; Centre National de la Danse, Paris; Lincoln Center, NY; Guggenheim Works & Process, NY; The Joyce Foundation, NY; and Mahindra Excellence in Theater Awards, India. In recent years, original works performed by her performing arts collaborative, Thresh, have earned international acclaim for their fresh juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary voices.
Kamala Sankaram: Composer
Praised as “one of the most exciting opera composers in the country” (Washington Post), composer Kamala Sankaram moves freely between the worlds of experimental music and contemporary opera. Recent commissions include works for The Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera, the PROTOTYPE Festival, and Creative Time, among others.
Kamala is known for her operas fusing Indian classical music with the operatic form, including Thumbprint, A Rose, Monkey and Francine in the City of Tigers, and the forthcoming Jungle Book. Also known for her work pushing the boundaries of the operatic form, recent works include The Last Stand, a 10-hour opera created for the trees of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Only You Will Recognize the Signal, a serial space opera performed live over the internet, Looking at You, a techno-noir featuring live datamining of the audience and a chorus of 25 singing tablet computers, all decisions will be made by consensus, a short absurdist opera performed live over Zoom, and The Parksville Murders, the world’s first virtual reality opera.
Kamala is the leader of Bombay Rickey, an operatic Bollywood surf ensemble whose accolades include two awards for Best Eclectic Album from the Independent Music Awards, the 2018 Mid-Atlantic touring grant, and appearances on WFMU and NPR. Awards, grants and residencies: Jonathan Larson Award, NEA ArtWorks, MAP Fund, Opera America, HERE Artist Residency Program, the MacDowell Colony, and the Watermill Center.
Dr. Sankaram holds a PhD from the New School and is currently a member of the composition faculties at the Mannes College of Music and SUNY Purchase.