Rubbai refers to the quatrain in Persian poetry. More than ten centuries ago in Persia, an ageing astronomer and mathematician, Omar Khayam, turned his existential anguish into poetry, and composed over a thousand, four-line verses as a love song to life and a lament on eternity. 

This work on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam draws from Edward Fitzgerald’s carefully curated translation of the original work. Fitzgerald’s sensitive treatment of the material recreates the mood of intense sensuality, rapture and urgency that its author conveys in the original work. The dancers’ bodies converse with the sea of ideas that Khayam sets adrift in his work. Using techniques of Odissi and contemporary vocabularies drawn from Indian movement traditions, the dancers manifest many reflections of Khayam’s poetry on the mirror of the body. Music influenced by Sufism and inflected by Hindustani classicism carry forth the journey of the dancer and the experience of the spectator. This is a yearning: a combination of movement, dance, music and the stirring imagination of a Persian mathematician who yearned to be a poet.

Commissed by the Esplanade Raaga Series 2013.