Premiere: Thursday 1 May at 2.30pm and 7.30pm at Stratford Circus
Press performance: Friday 2 May at 7.30pm at Stratford Circus

 Rites of War is a new collaboration fusing Lindsey Butcher’s (Gravity & Levity) expressive aerial dance vocabulary and Darshan Singh Bhuller’s powerful choreography together with real Afghanistan stories provided by the BBC Afghanistan correspondent David Loyn.

This work will mark a point in time when British troops stop fighting in Afghanistan at the centenary of them starting to fight in the First World War. It’s both about killing and dying. This visceral and emotive production will tell the stories of two soldiers from the two separate wars, revealing the ugly truths and occasional searing beauty of living and loving through conflicts.

Lindsey Butcher, artistic director of Gravity & Levity says of the project, “Rites of War has been a long time coming to fruition. The initial process began when I first worked with Darshan back in 1998 and we have been talking about making this piece ever since. After exchanging numerous stories from historical and worldwide conflicts over the intervening years, we fixed on the Great War juxtaposed with the conflict in Afghanistan. Creating a narrative led production is a new and exciting direction for Gravity and Levity, however I believe strongly in the potential of aerial dance to communicate ideas; challenging the viewers’ perspective and perception by literally upending the dance floor. We’re now both ready and eager to bring these remarkable stories to life.”

Darshan Singh Bhuller says, “I am enjoying this collaboration with Lindsey and David Loyn. I have worked with both of them in separate projects over the years, so it is great that we can be working together on Rites of War. Lindsey approached me to join her in a project a few years ago and after much discussion we came up with the idea of doing a piece about WWI, marking its 100 year anniversary, against the scenario of UK’s 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan. Her aerial work and David’s extensive knowledge of the subject seemed to be an ideal combination to bring these ideas to life.”

Rites of War will premiere at Stratford Circus on 1 May 2014, before going on a major UK spring tour to The Lowry in Salford, the Lighthouse in Poole and Kendrew Barracks in Rutland as part of Mobilisation Festival. There will then be an autumn tour beginning in October – dates to be announced soon.

Presented on and against a 6 metre high climbing wall, Rites of War, is a narrative led, aerial dance theatre work performed by six aerialists and dancers and combining a commissioned sound-score by composer Thor McIntyre Burnie; real Afghan stories and footage by David Loyn and Jane Saur; and set, lighting and graphic design by Will Reynolds.

David Loyn says, “My role as an advisor on this project has been to provide stories from the real people in Afghanistan and context to help make a narrative structure. It’s absolutely fascinating to then watch the creative process in action and see this narrative turned into a 3D dance performance. I hope the end result will say something to audiences about war perhaps in the way that Epstein and Wilfred Owen have managed before us.”

Running alongside the production in selected venues there will also be specialised outreach activities including:

  • Talks and discussions led by BBC Afghanistan correspondent David Loyn: ‘The Platforms’
  • Physical workshops led by the company members: ‘The Workshops’

Rites of War is supported by Arts Council England, is an Imperial War Museum Centenary Partner and is commissioned by Stratford Circus and is in association with The Point Eastleigh and Luton Hat Fair. Gravity&Levity square.

For more press information, images and review tickets please contact:

Shelley Bennett, Yeti PR, 07890 101841 |  
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Listings Information:

Dates:             Thu 1 – Fri 2 May at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sat 3 May at 4pm
Venue:            Stratford Circus, Theatre Square, London E15 1BX
To Book:          020 8279 1001 /
Tickets:            £12 / £10 conc / £8 students

Dates:               Tue 13 May at 8pm, Wed 14 May at 2pm & 8pm
Venue:              The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, Manchester, Greater Manchester M50 3AZ
To Book:          0843 208 6000 /
Tickets:             £18

Dates:               Wed 4 June at 2.30pm & 7.45pm, Thu 4 June at 7.45pm
Venue:              Lighthouse Centre for the Arts, 21 Kingland Rd, Poole, Dorset BH15 1UG
To Book:           0844 406 8666 /
Tickets:             £16

Dates:              Sun 15 June at 12pm & 3pm
Venue:             Mobilisation Festival, Kendrew Barracks, Cottesmore, Rutland, LE15 7BL ‎
To Book:
Tickets:            Free