Who We Are
Hi Ching, Artistic Director
Hi Ching was born in London and brought up in Singapore. He returned to London to study at the Royal Ballet School (Dancers’ Course) and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (Graduate Course – 1st studies in piano and singing, 2nd study in music composition). After graduating, he danced with the Frankfurt Ballet, Royal Opera, and English National Opera. He then worked as a professional actor, appearing on TV, film and stage before turning to directing, writing and composing, creating work with a holistic approach in which he oversees all aspects.
He is also Artistic Director of River Cultures based in East London and has created and directed an extensive range of theatre based, site-specific and outdoor work for organisations including the nationwide Silk Screens for the BBC, Royal National Theatre, South Bank Centre, The Museum in Docklands, Museum of London, V & A, British Museum, Chinese Arts Centre, the Taipei Representative Office, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Hong Kong Tourism Board and local councils at theatres, arts and festivals across the UK. In 2013, he established the annual SEA ArtsFest, of which he is Director. SEA ArtsFest is the first Southeast Asian arts festival in the UK. It champions & develops the work of artists of Southeast Asia and those inspired by Southeast Asia.
He was first prize national winner of a short story competition in the UK in 1996. Two of his plays which he directed and produced with the Albany Theatre were Hungry For It and You Beat Me, I Love You which received critical acclaim.
He won ‘Best Composition’ at the Fo Guang Temple International ‘Voices of the World’ Music Competition in 2005 which led to a commission of an outdoor musical on the life of Buddha ‘Journey Of Wisdom’, which he also scripted and directed, and received prizes every year at this Competition for three consecutive years. Music he has composed include The mela production of Nature’s Icons, Silk Screens and the theme music of BBC’s ‘Death On The Beach’ in which he also played he lead. A selection of his musical compositions are on the London Diaspora Capital website of Cultural Co-operation where he is featured.
Hi Ching’s administrative and organisational work began in 1981 when he was appointed Head of the Upper School at the Urdang Academy. In 1982 he became Principal of Ballet Theatre School / Dance Theatre Academy for ten years. He has received many grants and awards for his artistic projects.
Acting highlights include Spooks (BBC), First Emperor and The Great Wall (Discovery and Lion TV), The Crooked Man, and Thieftakers (Carlton TV), London’s Burning (LWT), Roger, Roger (BBC 2), The Fragile Heart (Channel 4), On Dangerous Ground (Superstar Channel), Tartort (Bavarian TV) TV Comedy – Tottenham 2 (Channel 4), Kaisermühlen Blues (Austrian TV series), And There’s More‚ (Central TV series with probably the first Chinese comic in a series) Anything Goes (West End), Ping Pong (the first all Chinese production in the UK), High Road To China and Aliens 3. Heritage projects include Spinning Lifestyles (oral history of East London’s Bangladeshi community) and Limehouse Chinatown (oral history of the ‘genuine children’ of London’s first Chinatown) and I Am An Indian Dancer In London.
Cid Shaha, Director of Projects
Cid Shaha was born and brought up in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has been performing since he was eight.
His training in Kathak, Folk, Baratha Natyam and Manipuri was at the Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts (7 year long Dancers’ Course), the Shishu Academy (Dancers’ Course) and Shuronggoma Academy (Dance Course). After graduating, he danced with the government run Shilpakala Academy as a child Cultural Ambassador, Nrityanchal Dance Company, Bangladesh Television and most of the other TV channels in Bangladesh. He has also worked as a professional actor, appearing on TV and film.
Cid was invited to England in May of 2006 to dance the lead as Prince Siddhartha / Buddha in the new UK musical ‘Journey To Wisdom’. Since his arrival, he has been in constant demand as performer, choreographer and teacher, appearing in dance and outdoor productions for FIPA (Foundation for Indian Performing Arts) where is lead dancer and principal choreographer, Anurekha Ghosh Dance Company, the Nehru Centre (Cultural Wing of the Indian High Commission), Akademi, UK Foundation for Dance (Big Dance), Chhandam, EEA, Walk the Plank, Nutkhut and Cirque Bijoux. He is also the lead dancer for the electronica band Sphongle which tours internationally.
In recent years, he has been a hit on stilts, creating the roles of Durga, Rama, Ravana, the Bird of Paradise and Nouka which he has performed at melas and festivals throughout the UK.
A popular teacher of Kathak, Bollywood and stilts, he is a registered tutor for Tower Hamlets (Dance Foundation) and choreographs for, amongst others, FIPA (Foundation for Indian Performing Arts), River Cultures, ArtsEkta and Shpongle. He worked with schools in Stepney to develop and choreograph Binderella, a Bollywood musical with 60 young people, that was performed to a full house at the Hackney Empire (2007), in which he also guest starred. He is guest teacher with ArtsEkta’s South Asian Dance Academy in Belfast.
Ever curious and inventive, he has developed his techniques in ballet, contemporary dance, stilt dancing and choreography expanding his career into new creative directions. In 2015, he became Director of Projects with FIPA.
“… so popular the dances had to be repeated … a great cultural ambassador.” The Wharf
Bhagya Lakshmi Thyagarajan, Head of Education
Bhagya Lakshmi Thyagarajan is a Bharatanatyam dance graduate from Kalakshetra who began her training at the age of 6 under her father Guru Shri R V Thyagarajan. Her teachers at Kalashetra were Leela Samson, C V Chandrashekharan, Sheejith Krishna and Haripadman. Further training with Guru Balagopalan polished her skills in abhinaya. She is also a trained carnatic music exponent.
Bhagya Lakshmi is recipient of the Yuva Pratibha Award by Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad, and an all India second rank holder for her Bachelor’s in Bharatanatym. She has also received the Bharatanatyam scholarship award from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India.
She has performed widely in India and internationally in Thailand, Singapore, France, Spain, India and the UK.
Since being resident in UK since 2010, she has performed and collaborated with various artists to create new work with a modern and contemporary outlook, based on and reimagining Bharatanatyam.
She teaches Bharatnatyam for beginners, intermediate and advance level students, preparing and training more advanced students for arangetrams. She is a member of the ISTD and follows the ISTD curriculum for Bharatanatyam. She is also mentor for advance level students for CAT (Centre for Advanced Training).
Bhagya Lakshmi Thyagarajan