Oral History Project

A pioneering initiative that draws upon both the practices of choreography and oral history.

More than 30 pupils from across Krishna Avanti Primary School (Harrow), Pagrav Dance Company and Sanskruti School of Dance are taking part in a multi-layered project with an oral historian and a dance artist. Participants will collect precious oral testimonies from elderly family and community members, and use this experience to devise a choreographic response, drawing upon themes of diaspora, migration and identity. This project begun in November 2020 and is being delivered through online platforms and in-person sessions.

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Generously supported by:

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)

Artistic director of Sanskruti Cambridge. Winner of Akademi’s UTKARSH runner up in 2016, two ACE grants, One Dance Teaching Mentoring programme and ISTD Bursary Award. Formally trained as a research scientist with a PhD in Neuroscience, Krishna is also a stage 2 breast cancer survivor. With the experience of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and two surgeries in a span of 14 months, her new mantra is #LifeIsGood!

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.

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