Contemporary dance fest reaches public spaces

New Delhi: Contemporary dance in India is choreographing its own language by drawing the soul of conventional classical formats into free-wheeling body movements in new venues.

The "Ignite: Contemporary Dance Festival" here Oct 31-Nov 4 will bring to the audiences the changing perceptions of contemporary dance with a selection of new choreographies from across the country by leading ensembles.

The festival, presented by the Gati Dance Forum will host seven troupes.

It will be supported by Royal Norwegian Embassy, Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities, Goethe Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, British Council, Swiss Arts Council and corporate houses.

The run-up to the festival began last week Oct 19-22 with a series of public performances that included projects like "From the Yellow Line", flash mobs and screenings of dance movies at Central Park, Khan Market, British Council and at Chittaranjan Park during the Durga festival.

"The idea was to take performance to the people with public and site-specific dances. Public dance performance has been there for years," dancer-choreographer Anusha Lall, director of the festival told IANS.

"Our performances were own way of responding to a need that we felt had to be addressed. We speak to a converted audience every year because of the restricted reach of dance in closed spaces.

"This year, we wanted to go beyond it to get into a dialogue with the inhabitants of Delhi," Lall said.

"The extended festival format is designed to radically raise awareness about contemporary dance and the festival through direct and repeated interventions in public spheres," she said.

Contemporary dance in India has been carving a rebellious space for itself by struggling to break out of the rigid code of the classical formats to explore social realities and layers of modern life that had been taboos of sorts for traditional genres dominated by conservative narratives of mythology, epics and history.

The festival is a challenge to conventions by taking dance to a variety of alternative, public spaces ranging from malls, heritage sites and gallery spaces to link body language with people`s consciousness to redefine the relationship of Indian dance with its audience, Lall said.

One of the important goals of the festival is dance education and awareness.

Workshops, master classes, seminars, screenings and interventions will showcase innovations in dance by choreographers from across India and the rest of the world.

It will take up issues of cultural policies and economic sustainability of dance as a vocation as well.

Mandeep Raikhy, the managing director of festival said young choreographers from India in recent years have developed their own individual approaches to dance-making and have "produced works" that are fresh, innovative and adventurous.

"A major highlight of the festival`s programme is a series of exciting works by emerging artists like Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy, Mehneer Sudan and Sanjukta Wagh," Raikhy said.

Shivaswamy, a emerging contemporary from Bangalore is part of performance collective, the KHA Foundation which choreographs site-specific performances.

Mehneer Sudan, a member of Gati, works with contemporary jazz, while kathak exponent Sanjukta Wagh innovates across genres, blending dance with related arts.

The festival will begin with a Attakalari act choreographed by Jayachandran Palazhy followed by "Ravanama" by Maya Krishna Rao, a choreography by Navtej Johar and Ben J.Reipe, "Under construction by Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy", "Beautiful Thing 2" by Padmini Chettur, "The Rising" by Rakesh Odera and Samhara by Nrityagram and Chitrasena Dance Company.

Shivaswamy`s piece, "Under Construction", to be staged at Select City Walk in Saket in south Delhi, is choreographed on the theme of re-imagining cities.

A movement installation, the choreography will explore how people, workers and individuals are caught in the mayhem and maze of bricks, bridges, construction sites and dust.


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