A Thousand Faces

Birmingham premiere for anti-violence dance piece.

Amina Khayyam Dance Company uses classical Indian dance – kathak – to present modern and contemporary stories about life and in particular women’s stories from around the world.

A Thousand Faces is bold dance theatre that uses Kathak’s intricate and detailed theatrical movements of abhinaya,(technique of communication), combining mime from Europe, to explore perceptions of imagery of beauty and glamour that become objects for abuse and violent attacks on women.

The piece – performed by three women and one man – aims to raise awareness of acid violence in particular, and, after the show at mac in Birmingham, there will be a Q&A with Amina Khayyam and Jaf Shah from Acid Survivors Trust International.

Says Amina: “A Thousand Faces aims to raise awareness of acid violence; acid attacks against women are a worldwide phenomenon and are not restricted to any race, religion or region. Cases of attacks have been reported in the UK and occur in many countries in SE Asia, Africa, the West Indies and the Middle East. Many cases go unreported and with little or no access to reconstructive surgery, survivors are terribly scarred – both physically and emotionally. In Pakistan, for example, many reported assailants, typically a husband or someone close to the victim, receive minimal to no punishment from the state.

“Growing up in Bangladesh I was very aware of acid attacks against women and I wondered what that country’s independence had given the women of Bangladesh. The word ‘independence’ interests me too – the men still run the country and society; what they say goes and violence against women is on the rise.”

Using Kathak’s intricate and detailed theatrical movements of abhinaya, (a South Asian classical technique of communication based on a narrative mode to evoke engagement with the audience), and incorporating puppetry, Amina Khayyam references perceptions of imagery of beauty and glamour that become objects for abuse and violent attacks.

Abhinaya is part of Kathak that is often paid less attention to in its current progression within a neo-classical approach. However, Amina Khayyam, renowned for her abhinaya, has developed new approaches in A Thousand Faces by bringing influence of European experimental forms of theatre mime movement to give the piece a wholly unique and innovative treatment highlighting the contemporary condition.

Amina’s dedicated concern for victims of, in particular, acid attacks, led her to connect with Acid Violence Survivors Trust International when she presented an earlier form of the show in London. “The charity’s director, Jaf Shah, told us a lot about the history of violence against women, statistics and the fact that because it happens mainly in third world countries, it’s much harder to get justice or take someone to court. I want audiences to see our production and recognize that it’s happening on our doorsteps in the UK as well as around the world.”

November 27th mac Birmingham at 8pm
Tickets: £14 (£12) plus post-show Q&A