Photo by Tom Decuyper
Photo by Darial Sneed
Photo by Mio Ikeda
Photo by Tom Decuyper
Sooraj Subramaniam is an Australian-Belgian dance artist of Malaysian-Indian heritage. His training in Bharatanatyam and Odissi began at Sutra Dance Theatre, Malaysia. In Australia he studied classical ballet with Stella Johnson, and later graduated from the Western Australian Academy for Performing Arts.
In the United Kingdom he worked primarily with SRISHTI, teaching and performing Bharatanatyam. He also toured internationally with Akademi, Balbir Singh Dance Company and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance. Whilst in London he also trained in Kathak with Urja Desai Thakore, adding to his varied vocabulary.
Since moving to Belgium in 2012 Sooraj has worked with independent choreographers Nicole Kohler, Kalpana Raghuraman, Seeta Patel and the Maghenta Collective. He continues to receive specialist training in Odissi with Madhavi Mudgal, Delhi, and since the global lockdown, virtually with Bijayini Satpathy, Bengaluru.
Having experienced dance in various cultural settings, Sooraj has come to understand that ‘contemporary’, rather than referring to any one form or vocabulary, implies a manner of working that is immediate and personal, responding to anything an artist deems relevant to themselves. It is this intrinsic value of individuality that allows for diverse expressions to coexist within a shared artistic landscape.
As such, Sooraj situates his work in hyphenated spaces, defying reductive notions of and confected borders between aesthetic categories such as style and genre, and identity markers such gender, race/ethnicity and nationality. He draws heavily on poetic motifs and choreographic frameworks from Indian dance, while obscuring the distinctions between traditional and contemporary with the aim to arrive at something hybrid and personal.
Sooraj's first independent work, Nocturne showed at The Place Theatre, London. nimbus, his most recent solo, premiered virtually at Sangam Festival, Melbourne, followed by screenings on online platforms by Maghenta and the India Dans Festival, Korzo Theatre, The Hague. Through commission from the Baryshnikov Arts Centre, New York, he collaborated with long-time friend and Malaysian artist January Low to produce the dance film Other Places of Being, as a response to artistic practice affected by the global pandemic. In collaboration with Balbir Singh Dance Company, UK, he wrote and performed the solo dance-theatre production of Reflections of an Indian Dancer, touring across the UK and Europe. He is currently set to premiere PALLAVI, his first ensemble work on four Odissi dancers.
Sooraj is married to Tom Decuyper, a fellow dancer and visual designer, and they live in Ghent, Belgium.