Image: Chris Nash

Image: Chris Nash

GemArts finished November 2014 with a spectacular duo of new works from our good friend Mayuri Boonham’s company ATMA Dance. Ex Nihilo/The Human Edge are a pair of complementary works, taking inspiration from sacred texts of India to explore the metaphysical origins of matter and the ancient questions of creation and human life.

Ex nihilo

There is an intriguing similarity between ancient philosophical questions of India and scientific inquiry about how our universe came into existence. The Hymn of Creation from the Rig Veda will drive the choreography of Ex nihilo, which will be juxtaposed against a sound environment created from recordings of The Large Hadron Collider by Bill Fontana as part of his Prix Ars Electronica artist residency at CERN in Geneva.

The Human Edge

In this work Boonham looks at the perceivable aspect of the universe that is within our grasp – the human angle. The story of Sati, the first goddess, the first embodied energy who appears at the start of the Hindu mythological moment of creation. The choreography delves into the drama of Sati’s life, love and dramatic death as a metaphor of a star.

When Mayuri told GemArts about this new project, we were really excited and blown away by the enormity of the themes and subjects she would tackle. Something which also struck us, was the link to CERN and Bill Fontana’s recordings of the Largde Hadron Collider. Not only was Professor Higgs (who is recognised for identifying the Higgs Boson particle and receiving a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013) born in Elswick Newcastle, but we also have a superb Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IPPP) based at Durham University. To add something extra to the event, we invited Dr Alexander Lenz, Deputy Director at the IPPP, to join Mayuri Boonham in a post show In Conversation.

The performance was fantastic, the two pieces presented in a very unique way, with elements of jagged, almost mechanical movement in one followed by fluid, graceful sequences in the other. The sound and lighting was exceptional, breathtaking some said. Following the dancers performance, Dr Lenz and Mayuri led a lively discussion covering CERN, physics, dance, sound, silence, literature, maths, faith and much more.

You can read Living North’s review of the performance, plus In Conversation here.

Post by Sinead



Every now and then whilst planning our forward programme, an opportunity to add to GemArts’ current season appears, and we have had such an opportunity present itself this season. On 18th December GemArts and Sage Gateshead will present Project Avartan in Hall Two. This fantastic world fusion trio features musicians Rekesh Chauhan (Piano), Alok Verma (Tabla/Percussions) and John Garner (Violin). Avartan, meaning cycle, weaves in influences from various world music styles, with an emphasis on the classical backgrounds the trio share. The project explores musical traditions with an array of contemporary flavours. This concert takes place during Sage Gateshead’s 10th birthday week, when the venue will be buzzing with birthday cheer.

Rekesh Chauhan (piano)
Alok Verma (tabla/percussion)
John Garner (violin)

Watch Project Avartan perform in Lisbon below:

Tickets are available from Sage Gateshead, priced at £10 full , £8 concession and our special £25 Family Ticket is also available. More info at



ALOK VERMA’s repertoire spans spiritual world music, fusion, indo-jazz, hipChop and African drumming. He has performed alongside Boris Grebenshikov, Aquarium International at the Royal Albert Hall and Ian Anderson, (Jethro Tull) at the Barbican, London.

REKESH CHAUHAN’s early training in Indian Classical Music from his Father and Guru, Rajesh Chauhan, fed into his study of Western Classical Music. Unifying a new style has made him a phenomenon amongst listeners as he is one the few who perform Indian Classical music on the Piano.

A graduate of the Royal College of Music, violinist JOHN GARNER has performed across the world with Hot Club Ensemble, electronica band Polaroid 85, his jazz quartet, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.


Post by Sinead