Indian dancer Shakti Mohan and classical composer Mohammed Fairouz team up in New York for BBC’s Collaboration Culture

Music means the world to me, it’s the lifeblood of human connection, it’s a source of incredible energy and it’s the most immediate art form and the one in which I find my expression most naturally."Mohammed Fairouz
Date: 04.07.2012     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.08
Category: BBC World News
Indian dancer Shakti Mohan travels from her home in Mumbai to New York to collaborate with Arab-American classical composer Mohammed Fairouz as part of the series Collaboration Culture broadcasting on the BBC’s international 24 hour news channel BBC World News.

Collaboration Culture pairs 14 creative and celebrated figures from the worlds of fashion, dance, music, food and art and invites them to collaborate on a new, innovative project including collaborations in New York, Lima, and Accra. The series broadcasts globally on BBC World News.

The New York collaboration sees these two supremely talented young artists, one a composer and one a dancer; born in the same year but on different continents, come together to create a dazzling new performance in one of the world’s greatest cities.

Shakti Mohan is a star in India. Based in Mumbai, she won a nationwide TV talent show called ‘Dance India Dance’ in 2010, wowing the judges with her natural and elegant style. Trained in both traditional and contemporary Indian dance, Shakti is also influenced by Western culture and performance techniques. Recently she has appeared in an Indian soap opera – but is now solely focusing on her dance studies and Bollywood dancing after winning a scholarship.

Mohammed Fairouz, age 26, is one of the most frequently performed, commissioned, and recorded composers of his generation. Hailed by The New York Times as 'an important new artistic voice,' his distinctive musical language melds Middle-Eastern modes and Western structures to deeply expressive effect. He has worked in every genre including opera, orchestral works, vocal music, ensemble works, chamber and solo pieces and choral settings. His music is played by many of the world's foremost performers, and at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Boston’s Symphony Hall, The Kennedy Center, and internationally throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Australia. He is no stranger to intriguing collaborations, having worked with celebrated Arabic poets and most recently, the Irish literary giant Seamus Heaney.

This episode will follow Shakti as she experiences New York for the very first time, and as she and Mohammed work closely together, sharing ideas and inspiring one another. He will compose a brand new piece of music to which Shakti will choreograph her own routine. The collaborative process will culminate in a one-off performance in front of an invited audience, with Shakti dancing backed by a top American string quartet and a Klezmer clarinettist premiering Mohammed’s new composition.

Mohammed Fairouz says, “Music means the world to me, it’s the lifeblood of human connection, it’s a source of incredible energy and it’s the most immediate art form and the one in which I find my expression most naturally.” And on the collaboration itself, “Three days to work on the music and two days to work on the choreography? Theoretically no. But somehow we did it! We did it!"

“When I first heard [Mohammed’s] music I was so nervous because I couldn’t imagine dancing at that pace for long… Said Shakti Mohan, talking the day before their performance, “But I’ve worked through it… and now I can dance it twice all the way through without getting tired. Because I’m really feeling it – this music is magical.”

Collaboration Culture, broadcast in association with Emirates, will air weekly on BBC World News from 30 June on Saturdays at 00:30; 07:30, and Sundays at 12:30; 18:30 (all times GMT).

For all the latest news from the series, please visit www.bbc.com/collaborationculture or join the conversation on facebook.com/collabculture and/or on Twitter at @collab_culture.

For more information please contact: Sophie West sophie.west@bbc.co.uk / 07718 117 723