Oral History Project
A pioneering initiative that draws upon both the practices of choreography and oral history.
Generously supported by:
Oral Historian, Laura Owen, has produced a series of podcasts with the participants of Akademi’s Oral History project. They interviewed family, friends, and elders to find out stories about their migration, culture and memories. Some participants shared thoughts about their identity as an Indian child in the UK and how they remain connected with their South Asian heritage by engaging in music and culture.
This episode of Akademi’s oral history podcast series explores themes of migration, culture and memory with students from Krishna Avanti Primary School, Harrow. After 5 oral history training sessions, students interviewed family, friends, and elders to find out more about their childhood memories, migration stories and the challenges they faced. In this episode we hear clips from some interviews recorded by Krishna Avanti students – including Rajesh’s story of growing up in Kenya and June’s memories of World War II in England.
This episode of Akademi’s oral history podcast series showcases the interviews recorded by students of Sanskruti School of Dance in Cambridge. We hear stories passed down through families and the life experiences of family and friends of Sanskruti students including stories about their migration to the UK, South Asian culture in the diaspora and the importance of music to their interviewee’s lives. In this episode we hear clips from students’ interviews – including Gita’s thoughts about her identity as an Indian child in the UK and Vivek’s memories of migrating from India to Australia via the USA.
This final episode of Akademi’s oral history podcast series showcases the interviews recorded by students of Pagrav Dance Company, who underwent training in oral history as part of Akademi’s Heritage Project. This episode explores how the interviewees remain connected with their South Asian heritage throughout their lives in the diaspora by engaging in music, prayer, and cultural events. We’ll hear stories including Lata’s cultural connections to India whilst living in Africa and the UK and Chandni’s experiences of being one of the only South Asian girls at school.
Krishna Avanti Primary School, Harrow
Krishna Avanti Primary School, is an inclusive Hindu faith school that is part of the Avanti Schools Trust.
20 Key Stage 2 pupils are currently enjoying weekly Oral History sessions every Thursday with Oral Historian, Laura Owen. From January 2021, they will start working on the creative movement responses to the collected oral histories with Lead Dance Artist, Olivia White.
Laura Owen (Oral Historian)
Laura is a freelance oral historian who has worked on several oral history projects based around community heritage.
Her interests lie in bringing together communities through both shared and diverse histories and memory.
Alongside her work with Akademi, Laura is managing another NLHF project based in Essex.
Olivia White (Lead Dance Artist)
Olivia has been delivering dance workshops in various settings for a number of years, including schools, prisons and IRC’s, as well as teaching regular classes within adult education settings.
Since the 1990’s, she has developed a focus on South Asian arts, incorporating both classical dance and vocal studies alongside an increasing interest in arts and mental health. Since 2007, she has spent time organising various events in rural settings, including charitable multicultural showcases, Classical Indian Dance and Music concerts and workshops with visiting artists.
Sanskruti School of Dance, Cambridge
Sanskruti School of Dance trains students from all age groups and with different cultural backgrounds in a variety South Asian dance styles, Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Bollywood, as well classical Carnatic Vocals and the Veena. The school’s aim is to holistically train students in performing arts allowing students to build confidence, create, imagine and express, their thoughts and feelings. Sanskruti is lead by Artistic Director Krishna Zivraj-Nair, a Bharatanatyam artist, teacher and choreographer.
7 Key Stage 2 students from Sanskruti School of Dance are currently enjoying weekly Oral History sessions every Sunday with Laura, together with the students from Pagrav Dance Company. From January 2021, Krishna and Linnéa will start working on the creative movement responses to the collected oral histories.
Krishna Zivraj-Nair (Artistic Director & Dance Artist)
Linnéa Husmann (Senior Dance Artist)
Krishna on Linnéa: Linnéa is one of my senior students and her role in the Oral History project will be that of the lead senior dance artist. She will create dance movement based on the testimonies collected by my junior students. She will use Bharatanatyam vocabulary to choreograph this new dance work.
Linnéa’s commitment and dedication to her dance is endorsed by ISTD awarding her with the Junior Bursary Award in 2019 to recognise her potential in dance. Linnéa has participated in Akademi’s Yuva (2015) and Navadal (2019). Moreover, Linnéa is also one of my lead dancers for Akademi’s Seed Commission and this opportunity will boost her potential as a young dancer and choreographer.
Pagrav Dance Company, London
Pagrav Dance Company creates and promotes Neo classical kathak, invigorating the form with modern context and renewed presentation, while encouraging new thinking and understanding of the discipline. The company creates and tours thought-provoking productions and is committed to nurturing the next generation of dance artists through its comprehensive training and education streams.
8 students aged 10 – 21, including professional dancers, from Pagrav Dance Company are currently enjoying weekly Oral History sessions every Sunday with Laura, together with the students from Sanskruti School of Dance. From January 2021, Parbati will start working with them on the creative movement responses to the collected oral histories.
Parbati Chaudhury (Lead Dance Artist)
Parbati Chaudhury is a performer, choreographer, maker, and teacher, working for a number of companies and choreographers, including Pagrav Dance Company (PDC), ReRooted Dance Collective, Kadam Dance, and Amina Khayyam Dance Company.
In the making of her own work, Parbati echoes narratives she encounters using dance rooted in kathak, live music, and theatre, with collaboration at its heart. As one of DanceXChange’s 2020 Choreography Awardees, she is further developing her work-in-progress, Goodgirl.
As a teacher, Parbati leads kathak classes for PDC, as well as independently. For this project, she will be the Lead Dance Artist, representing PDC.