Centre of Contemporary Arts Presents:

Event: Mens rea: The Shifter's Intent

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Created and Performed by Raghav Handa


Paradigm shifting, forces at work, images blurred and boundaries crossed


Mens rea explores the concept of “Shape-Shifting” and is set against the background of the Indian epic, Ramayana. Shifting between three of its principal characters Jatayu, Sita and Ravana, Handa explores the shift in their intent as the trigger point of their physical and emotional transformation. Jatayu (a demi-god vulture) attempts to rescue Sita (the wife of the god, Rama) but is captured and mutilated by Ravana (a shape-shifting demon).


Handa and Mentor Marilyn Miller, visited Indigenous elders in the remote communities of Laura and Yarrabah in Far North Queensland to conduct the initial research. In Australian Aboriginal ceremonies, dancers apply ochre and wear the feathers or skin of their animal guardians, while adopting the grace and form of the animal they have become. From an Indian perspective, Handa consulted his family on the story of Sita’s theft and the characters in Ramayana. Building on this premise he explored the trigger points that initiate transformation, the physical changes that result from transformation, and the emotions imbued on transformation. To explore “Shape-Shifting” on a skeletal level, Raghav worked with the 3D motion capture technology at Deakin Motion Lab in Melbourne.


Raghav’s stylistical dance aesthetic reflects his experiences with Australian contemporary indigenous dance over many years and his own Indian heritage. Using distinct movement qualities and personas he creates physical sites/zones in space to facilitate shift in intent, physical attributes and atmosphere.


Presented as part of the New Move Network program

Visit the Mens rea Facebook page.

Event details

Dates:Friday, 24 Jun 2016 - Saturday, 25 Jun 2016


Masterclass with Raghav Handa June 18th, 10.30am

Venue:The Space, Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns
Program:Centre of Contemporary Arts

General Admission $19 | Concession $15