Apsaras Arts Dance Company Singapore is coming to Australia to perform its Indian dance production AGATHI: Refugee at a special Australia for UNHCR fundraising event.
© Apsaras Arts Dance Company
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Telling a refugee story in theatre and dance

An interview with Aravinth Kumarasamy, the Artistic Director of AGATHI: Refugee

Apsaras Arts Dance Company Singapore is coming to Australia to perform its Indian dance production AGATHI: Refugee at a special Australia for UNHCR fundraising event. 

The performance is inspired by Artistic Director Aravinth Kumarasamy’s experience, living as a Tamil refugee as a teenager. The show also takes inspiration from poetry written by refugee children. 

We spoke to Aravinth ahead of the performance.  

What is AGATHI: Refugee about? 

AGATHI: Refugee is a contemporary Indian dance theatre work highlighting the plight of refugees as they face various calamities which force them to flee their homes. This work is inspired by Book of Poems by Refugee Children Across the World, published by UNHCR. 

Tell us a little more about the poetry. How has it inspired AGATHI: Refugee? 

I wanted AGATHI: Refugee to give voice to the children's poetry. One of the poems by the refugee children entitled ‘He will never be the same again!’ is a compelling poem with deep meaning. This poem was my main inspiration in telling stories of the plight of refugees.  

Why are you bringing the show to Australia? 

AGATHI: Refugee is relevant to many parts of our world today, where many people are forced to be refugees. They seek a better life, free from conflict and violence. Australia is a land that has been made by immigrants and, in recent decades, by refugees from across the world. I am sure Australians will relate to the performance.  

During the performance, the audience can expect to see poetry and dance theatre with soul-stirring music. AGATHI: Refugee is choreographed as a contemporary dance theatre performance based on the Indian classical dance form, Bharatanatyam. This is a rare treat for dance lovers in Australia.  

Aravinth Kumarasamy (Artistic Director), Mohanapriyan Thavarajah (Choreographer, Costume Designer and Principal Dance Artiste)
© Apsaras Arts Dance Company, AGATHI : Refugee - Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, Singapore 2017
Aravinth Kumarasamy (Artistic Director) and Mohanapriyan Thavarajah (Choreographer, Costume Designer and Principal Dance Artist) from the Asparas Arts Dance Company

Why do you think theatre and dance are good ways to tell the stories of refugees? 

Theatre and dance are very effective in communicating thoughts and narratives. Dancers are storytellers, especially in Indian classical dance, which can create oneness between the performing artists and the audience. We hope to harness this strength to tell the stories as penned by the refugee children.  

Why have you decided to donate the proceeds of the show to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency? 

Since its premiere in 2017, it was my desire to present this work in support of UNHCR and its work in aiding refugee children around the world. 

AGATHI: Refugee will be in Sydney for one night only, on Friday 15 September. 

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