Opera North Blog

Bringing Ganapati to Leeds

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Around two years ago, my colleague at the University of Leeds Joslin McKinney and I hatched the idea of an international festival of theatre and performance. It would celebrate Leeds as a centre of international excellence, bring in exciting work from abroad; and put some of the UK and especially Leeds region’s finest talent on show. We called it Ludus Festival Leeds (www.ludusfestival.org).

Ludus means ‘play’ and we want to create ‘a city at play’ – where the people of Leeds and visitors alike can play with their expectations, try something a little different. The programme is designed to appeal to a broad rage of ages and tastes, with plenty of space to experiment. And Festival is about celebration. We see Ludus as a way for public, artists and venues alike to celebrate what we have in common.

The Ludus partnership has been an important part of that. The University has joined together with the main providers of theatre and performance in the City – including Opera North, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Yorkshire Dance and Leeds City Council – to build Ludus together. Especially pleasing as part of that is to have Opera North and the University’s stage@leeds collaborate to bring Indian dance company Adishakti’s magnificent show Ganapati  to the Howard Assembly Room on 28, 29 and 30 June.

Joslin and I went through a long process with international experts to identify first a long and then a short list of shows for Ludus; and then work with our partners to decide precisely what best fitted the bill.  Ganapati was always a front-runner. It explores the cycle of creation through stories of birth associated with the elephant-headed Hindu god – also known as Ganesh. It is an exhilarating feast of energetic and captivating dance and music.

Adishakti make contemporary performance from their deep understanding of and deep skills in traditional Indian performance. So a bonus to Ganapati is a set of workshops on Sunday 1 July at stage@leeds - delivered by the company members and open to professionals and experienced others. So both the performance at Howard Assembly Room and the workshops will enrich Leeds.

It’s important to us that people in Leeds are part of the Ludus partnership. So on the Ludus website you will find ways to keep in touch, tell us what you think abut Ludus 2012 as it unfolds and then rests into memory; and help us build to the next Ludus, in 2014. It soon became clear to us and our partners that Ludus was too good an idea to make just once!

Mick Wallis

Co-Director, Ludus Festival Leeds

Photo credit: Mr. S. Anvar, Chennai

Ganapati is performed at the Howard Assembly Room as part of Ludus Festival Leeds on Thursday 28, Friday 29 and Saturday 30 June. More information and booking details can be found here.

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