Kamala is a London-based, multi-lingual dance artist, choreographing, performing and teaching in the UK and US. In the UK, Kamala has performed for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony with Akram Khan Company, toured with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance and worked with many independent choreographers. She has had regularly involvement with Akademi since 2007, in both performance, choreography and community work.
How did you first hear about Akademi?
Through my engagement with the Indian dance community in London in 2004 when I moved here to dance for Shobana Jeyasingh Dance.
What was your first engagement with Akademi or who introduced you? Can you remember how you felt? How old were you?
My first real engagement with Akademi was in collaboration with Seeta Patel. Akademi gave us £100 towards the making of our first work Alter Ego. I felt grateful for their support. I was 27.
Please describe your work in three words:
Athletic, bold, fluid
Please note all participation/involvement that you have had with Akademi:
2007; Support for Alter Ego.
2011; Dancer for Song of the City choreographed by Ash Mukerjee.
2012; Rehearsal Director for Seeta Patel's First Light.
2013; Dancer for First Light, led the 'Ace Your Audition' workshop and audition process.
2014; Awarded CHOREOGATA
2015; US research and development for CHOREOGATA, performed CHOREOGATA piece Ankusha at the South Bank Centre.
2016; Choreographed for 2 school projects, Camden Dance Festival and Dance in the Mix at Rich Mix, led the 'Ace Your Audition' workshop and audition process and performed in the work-in-progress showing of Paradiso: Man's Enduring Search for Perfection.
Out of these which has the most impact and why?
It was through the CHOREOGATA commission that I applied for Arts Council England funds and was rewarded my first Grants for the Arts funds to create Ankusha. The success of my creative process and product with Ankusha led me to decide to form my own company, Kamala Devam Company. I received my first Arts Council England company funding this year.
South Asian dance would exist, and will continue to exist, whether or not Akademi is there to promote it, so Akademi's role is not essential to South Asian dance existing. However, thanks to Akademi, South Asian dance in the UK, particularly classical Indian dance, is being seen often outside its usual proscenium theatre context, taken outside to the public and into community halls to unexposed audiences. Performers, teachers and choreographers of classical Indian dance are able to consider and pursue careers in this field because of Akademi.
Why is an organisation like Akademi important?
Coming from the US, we have organisations that specifically propagate classical Indian dance and music, programming it in community Hindu festivals and sometimes taking it into the mainstream arts cultures. What we don't have abs how organisations like Akademi in the UK are important is their drive and interest to support the development of dance artists into better performers, better dance makers and better teachers of Indian dance. The most important element of Akademi's ethos to me is their interest and their support of artists who have the interest to take classical forms into a contemporary context, whether that is conceptual or kinaesthetic, informed by other forms including western Contemporary dance. These organisations dare to challenge artists to make good hybrid work, work that reflects the diverse biological and social-economic stories that lie within the artists they support.
Image credits (from top): Song of the City (Pete Schiazza, 2011), Kamala Devam (Simon Richardson, 2008), CHOREOGATA (Simon Richardson, 2011) and CHOREOGATA (Vipul Sangoi, 2015)
Artist Development and Productions