CATCH THE BIRD WHO WON'T FLY

For a crime often shrouded in secrecy, Catch The Bird Who Won’t Fly brings attention to the devastating reality of gender-based violence. It is the latest project from the critically acclaimed Amina Khayyam Dance Company.  

Comprising four individual stories, Catch The Bird Who Won’t Fly – was created using green screen technology overlaid with animations. The stories poignantly narrate, through Kathak dance, the real-life experiences of women from diverse communities who have suffered domestic violence or sexual abuse. 

“I wanted to create an easily accessible body of work which emphasises the alarming increase of domestic violence … and particularly violence experienced by women of diverse heritages in the home during lockdown”, said Amina Khayyam, Artistic Director of Amina Khayyam Dance Company. “Throughout my career, I’ve come across many women experiencing or fleeing domestic abuse and hearing their experiences is heartbreaking. Because I’ve been trusted with these emotional accounts, I felt compelled to help give a voice to [these] voiceless women. This result is Catch The Bird….  

“With storytelling at the core of its technique, Kathak has the tools and capability to tell stories. I wanted people to engage watching Kathak dance on a film as much as they would engage watching it live with this story.” 

In 2019, charities working with women fleeing domestic violence reported these crimes were at a five-year high. Since April 2020, many of the same organisations, are experiencing a marked increase in cases since lockdown. One such organisation is Southhall Black Sisters - collaborators on the Catch The Bird Who Won’t Fly. 

“These short, but perfectly curated vignettes are true testimonies of the pain and sorrow experienced by the women and the families we support. There’s something about the use of animation juxtaposing the stark reality of the crime that makes Catch The Bird Who Won’t Fly an emotive, bold and uncompromising body of work” said Shakila Mann of Southhall Black Sisters.  

With theatres and dance studios being shut because of the national lockdown, Catch The Bird Who Won’t Flywas filmed and produced in Amina’s own home. In order to create the piece, Amina turned her two-bedroom flat into a studio for filming of the project. 

“Honestly, I didn’t anticipate the constraints and problems it would take to turn our home into a film and dance studio. Plus, filming took longer than we anticipated which impacted our family and family life. Add to that, working remotely with our team of collaborators, meant I had to learn, and learn quite quickly how to adapt and pivot the way I would normally approach a project” Amina added.  

The dance was filmed against green screen before a video narrative was imposed in the background hence offering a slightly more visceral setting than used to imaginate on a stage. “It gave us a different dimension to develop the story which was really useful to tackle this subject. Working with our videographer and animator Louise Rhoades-Brown was brilliant – we both bounced off each other pushing ideas to their limits,” Amina added.  

Amina Khayyam’s dedication and passion for telling difficult stories through Kathak dance has not been halted because of lockdown. In fact, she’s embraced it and stepped boldly into the space this pause created. Lockdown provided an arena for Amina to lift the lid on what has been known about for years, but seldom addressed.   

In the absence of live stage performances, Catch The Bird Who Won’t Fly allows Amina to continue innovating new ways to deliver the work of the company. “This is an important subject and I’m glad the Domestic Violence Bill has finally been passed but we still need more legislation in place to protect migrant women.” she added.  

Catch The Bird Who Won’t Fly was funded by the Arts Council COVID-19 Recovery Fund. 

Choreographer/Director/Writer: 

Amina Khayyam 

Video & Animation: 

Louise Rhodes-Brown 

Music & Sound Design:  

RENU  

Performers:  

Jane Chan, Mithun Gill & Amina Khayyam 

Tabla & Daf: 

Debasish Mukherjee

Vocal: 

Lucy Rahman, Sohini Alam & Rup Khatkar 

Cello: 

Iain Mchugh  

Costume: 

Shaheda Choudhury 

Producer/Dramaturgy: 

Hardial S. Rai 

Biographies of all creative practitioners here 

Funded by the Arts Council COVID-19 Recovery Fund.

Made in partnership with Southall Black Sisters, Liaise Women's Centre, Collage Arts, zeroculture/The Artta