We’re thrilled that Debashis Sinha is joining Peggy Baker Dance Projects again for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche October 4-5. Deb is designing both the interactive audio design and the video design for “The Perfect Word”.
How long have you been working with Peggy? Do you recall the first project you worked on together?
DS: I’ve been working with Peggy for over a decade and a half, first accompanying classes for her on percussion (I am primarily a percussionist) with her late husband, Ahmed Hassan. I met Peggy though Ahmed, who was a composer and accompanist in the Canadian dance community for many years. When I moved to Toronto he and I became friends, and he mentored me and introduced me to Peggy and modern dance, as well as many other musicians who have since become close friends and with whom I still play music today.
If I remember correctly, the first major project I worked on with Peggy was a remount of Sanctum, which was a piece that she and Ahmed created many years ago. Ahmed had multiple sclerosis, and he and Peggy decided that it would be me that would reprise his role as musician onstage for a remount as Ahmed was losing his coordination and beginning to restrict his artistic practice to voice and composition. It was a great honour for me, and an extension of the deep friendship I had with Ahmed and Peggy.
Since then, I have collaborated with Peggy on many performances and compositions, as well as accompanying her dance classes at Canada’s National Ballet School for many years. I am very fond of saying that my collaborations with Peggy have made me the musician I am today.
What do you have to do to prepare for “The Perfect Word”?
DS: Peggy found an amazing book for me to make my visuals from – The Complete Encyclopedia of Illustration. I am combing through its thousands of public domain images to create a photo stream that the audience members can use as a starting point to think of their Perfect Word, which they are invited to speak into a microphone set up for this purpose. As the night goes on, the many words that the public speaks will be looped and will create a drone of sound that will be the main audio element for the installation, on top of the text that the dancers will speak in their various languages (which will also be processed somewhat and added to the soundscape).
How does a live audience alter your preparations?
DS: It is impossible to predict what will happen once the installation is opened up to the public. I have some good ideas, and have designed my audio accordingly (e.g. making sure the audio signal does not distort and remains at a manageable level, even with the many microphones that will be live during the night). But the great thing about sharing a work, particularly a work that will be built by the public, is that one never really knows what will happen, especially since I don’t have the ability to run the installation exactly as it will be on the night.
Don’t miss the chance to see and hear Debashis Sinha live in action. “The Perfect Word” is an Independent Project at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, sunrise to sunset, October 4-5 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis Street. Admission is free.