Award-winning international arts organisation, Jaivant Patel Company, considered one of the leading voices in South Asian LGBTQIA+ narratives, aims to change the status quo within dance and the wider arts sector by championing work by South Asian queer creatives whilst producing ground-breaking dance theatre.  

Jaivant Patel points out that “on the wider contemporary dance, representation of South Asian queer narratives is relatively non-existent.” His company wants to “contribute to meaningful change in the sector that deconstructs socially constructed viewpoints on South Asian-led and queer-led work. I want to create space for dialogue for deepening understanding and commitment to authentic work led by South Asian and/ or queer artists that are important for representations and reflective of the diverse communities present in the UK.”  

Jaivant identifies as a British Asian contemporary dance maker incorporating Kathak by using the nuanced language of this dance to inform the narrative in his work. The lack of intersectional diversity of characters and queer representation on British stages were primary reasons why he pursued a career in dance and theatre.   

Jaivant attended Northern School of Contemporary Dance, one of UK’s leading dance training institutions. After graduating, he set up Jaivant Patel Dance (now known as Jaivant Patel Company). Over the last 15 years, Jaivant has developed as an artist and cultural commentator, finding a strategic and political voice within the arts ecology. As an artist, Jaivant began his Indian classical dance training in 2014 and has since produced community and professional productions, celebrating the diversity of South Asian performers, South Asian artforms, dance and narratives.   

Jaivant is unapologetic about disrupting the mind-sets and practises which have historically marginalised artists like him and the wider community of South Asian queer creatives by challenging venues on their programming policy as well as being vocal about the monopoly held by established South Asian arts organisations and Indian classical dance companies in the UK.    

In recent years, Jaivant has explored queer identity in two stage productions, ‘YAATRA’, which was a fresh perspective on South Asian LGBTQIA+ narratives, faith and spirituality; The other piece wasSamarpan Mahotsav’, celebrating queer voices in Indian classical dance and live music. He also produced the dance film, ‘I Am Your Skin’, which challenges perceptions of gender and questions how we frame sexuality. It was one of three Akademi Screendance Commissions for ADFF 2021. 

Earlier this year, Jaivant Patel Company previewed ‘Waltzing The Blue Gods’ at the Kala Sangam Arts Centre in Bradford. This production brings the storytelling technique of Kathak into a theatre space, where Jaivant Patel reimagines the queer symbolism of the Hindu gods, Shiva and Krishna, and the role they played in his sexual awakening and spiritual relationship to faith, to becoming an openly homosexual British-Indian man.   

From a young age, Jaivant was fascinated with the imagery of Ardhanarishwara, an androgynous representation of the god Shiva, which brings together male and female energy in one form. Jaivant remembers seeing representations of gender fluid, intersex and queer narratives within the Indian mythology of his faith and cultural heritage, something he related to. Jaivant struggled to understand contemporary society celebration of these queer images, yet didn’t accept him and his queerness. Jaivant draws similar parallels within Kathak where we often see a role-playing performer, regardless of gender, playing a nayika (heroine) or nayak (hero); and the potential queering possibilities that are presented in this instance.   

This double bill features Aliṅga, using the symbolism of Shiva to gain freedom in being true to one’s chosen identity. The second work Svarūpa, explores traditional poetry on the god Krishna, with live music interrogating and reimagining the rich possibilities of queer love, which challenge the heteronormative notions of gender in Kathak to embrace and reclaim alternate narratives relevant to the modern world. 

“Waltzing The Blue Gods’ aims to dismantle heteronormative social constructs of gender that for the South Asian diaspora are rooted essentially in unconscious biases which are a legacy of colonised mindsets. Pre-colonial India and its subcontinent have a rich history of celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community that acknowledges its existence with respect and acceptance. ‘Waltzing The Blue Gods’ is rooted in amplifying rich new possibilities that are authentic in the reclaiming of the queer space.” (Jaivant Patel, Artistic Director – Jaivant Patel Company)  

‘Waltzing The Blue Gods’ is a deeply personal and thought-provoking stage production aimed at pushing the boundaries of Kathak, as well as inspiring audiences to explore the relationship of queerness within South Asian culture, faith and history.   

Audiences at the preview shows at Kala Sangam, found the production both emotional and an incredible achievement in South Asian arts and Indian classical dance with one commenting, “as a South Asian Queer person this event really spoke to me. I did not realise I was missing this form of representation until I saw it in front of me.”  

Waltzing The Blue Gods’ features some of South Asian arts’ globally respected choreographers, composers, and musicians, with beautiful and authentic choreography by Urja Desi Thakore and Jaivant Patel, soulful rhythms composed by Alap Desai, paired with heartfelt, live music performed by Yadav Yadavan, Vijay Venkat, John Ball and Sahib Sehmbey.  

Jaivant Patel’s ambition with ‘Waltzing The Blue Gods’ is to empower South Asian queer creatives to make work that comes from an authentic lens and lived experience whilst challenging mainstream venues policy of programming queer narratives by cis-gender creatives, which silences and even erases the queer voice. He also wants ‘Waltzing The Blue Gods’ to be a source of inspiration and safe space for anyone belonging to South Asian and the wider LGBTQ+ community, who might be struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality, issues of acceptance from their kin and those who aren’t yet able to be open about their sexuality.  




You can find the trailer here: 

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