Watch + Listen: Nadine Shah’s ‘Trad’ is Choreographed Into the Alt Ballet ‘Lyssa’
At the peak of pandemic fear and fatality last June, Nadine Shah intrepidly released her newest album Kitchen Sink, and followed by Zoom-recording a stark version of the title track, with the members of her band being filmed in their respective quarantine locations. The song dealt incisively with the very real anxieties women face when considering age and childbirth – especially poignant at a time when we were all staring mortality in the face every day.
Now her powerfully affecting single ‘Trad’, taken from the same album, has been given a most unexpected new context. Indeed, the Tony, Olivier, and Drama Desk Award nominated choreographer Lynne Page (A Little Night Music, American Psycho) has stunningly choreographed seventeen Royal Ballet dancers to the song for the new short film Lyssa, which will be free to view as of 7pm on June 4, via London’s Royal Opera House website and YouTube page.
In Greek mythology, Lyssa was the spirit of rage, frenzy, and apparently even rabies (Lyssaviruses are a real thing, apparently). And let’s face it, women certainly have more reason than usual to feel rage right now, as the pandemic has once again revealed the systemic cracks in their support systems around the world.
“Lyssa is my response to a turbulent year,” Page explains, “a period that has only strengthened my belief that female voices need to be heard more than ever. Nadine Shah is a great artist, and I find her music lends itself to theatricality, with warmth, depth and wit.”
As for the track itself, the empowering feminist lyrical themes carry on, as the Brit songstress sardonically intones “Take me to the ceremony / Make me holy matrimony,” before bluntly querying, “Shave my legs / Freeze my eggs / Will you want me when I am old?” The jittery rhythms and haunted atmospherics only serve to ratchet up the intensity.
But setting aside the ideological urgency of the project for a moment, Shah excitedly enthuses, “I got to perform on the stage where Maria Callas sang, surrounded by incredible women, talent like I’ve never seen before. It was an absolute dream.”
It would certainly seem so.