Merging music and movement, on the spot with Kyle Scott

We had an inspiring evening with artist Kyle Scott, performing songs from recent albums and EP’s, sharing key moments that inspired his music and artistic journey and talking about his creative process in songwriting and music. Read an excerpt from Kyle’s interview with The Telegraph t2 by Yasmin Turner. Read the full article online here.

“An intimate dance studio at The Doodle Room in Garcia was the location of an exciting collaboration of dance and music between Dance Bridges Festival and American singer songwriter Kyle Scott on September 8. […]

When did you start writing and perfoming music ? Has this been something you’ve only done in Calcutta?

I started singing in my early 20s, playing in small venues around the stat of Indiana, where I’m from, but I’ve travelled back and forth, between the US and India for work on and off for about a decade. Since then, I’ve been plugging in to the music scene here in Calcutta. You kind of have to dig for it, but it’s here.

What influences your music – experiences or artistes?

Moving here has been a big piece of it and has introduced me to an entirely different culture, a beautiful culture. It’s sometimes overwhelming with the noise and the chaos of the city. I come from a farming community in Indiana, so it’s night and day as far as differences go! I love (singer-songwriter) Damien Rice and he’s been a big influence on my music. I like how his music kind of quiets and then takes off, then quiets down again. There’s a lot of emotion in the way that he composes.

So what does the future hold for you? More music?

I’m finishing my work here, with Sari Bari (a non-profit), and I’m heading back to the US at the end of the year but I’m recording a single soon. I’m usually kind if a loner when it comets music but I’m branching out with a band. I’m hoping after what we’re doing in the studio, this will be a kind of springboard to continue doing music in the States. I also want to take an Indian harmonium home, it’s such a cool instrument!”

You can watch a video snippet from the event here.


t2’s tryst with MR Twinkletoes — Stefano Fardelli

Artist interview with Stefano Fardelli for The Telegraph t2 by Anannya Sarkar. Read the article online here.

When we met Italian dancer Stefano Fardelli, he had just walked into The Doodle Room in Hazra with the swagger of a fashion model dressed in all black, his affability belying the fact that he had just been fleeced by a local cabbie on a trip to the Victoria Memorial on a scorching May afternoon.

“I really like the colonial buildings in the city and I am very curious to know more, even if I get fleeced a little on the way,” chuckled Stefano, a dancer who has made a name for himself in the contemporary dance sphere and is a guest teacher at The Place, a renowned dance school in London.

With a background in modelling, Stefano’s flair for style is not difficult to place. The contemporary dance style that he teaches — a mix of (Merce) Cunningham technique, floor-work, release technique, physical theatre and Feldenkrais technique — is an amalgamation of his personal experiences assimilated over almost three decades. Stefano, who has been regularly coming to India since 2013 as part of cultural exchanges facilitated by the Italian embassy, was brought to the city by Vanessa Mirza of Dance Bridges Festival for a workshop and that’s where t2 caught up with him.

From modelling to dance, how did you make the switch?

I have been dancing since I was six. But you know how Italy is really famous for its fashion, so my dream was to become a stylist. The dance that I was learning was commercial (jazz and funky) and at one point I decided to take it seriously and started studying ballet at a private school in Genoa. During my first year there, a choreographer selected me for a musical and that’s when I started considering it as an option.

I went to London at 15 and won a modelling competition and then won the Italian leg of another prestigious modelling competition. I then moved to Milan and I am one of the very few people in the world who is certified to teach “catwalk-ing”. But after a year, I auditioned for one of the most prestigious European dance schools for ballet and contemporary dance, where I was selected. After working in Europe for a while, I just sent my CV to The Place in London — it’s one of the most famous dance academies of the world — for teaching there and I was surprised that they called me. Once you’re a guest teacher there, all the other doors open up for you.

How did India happen?

In 2013, I was in India for a holiday  and did the usual trail — Delhi, Rajasthan, Varanasi and Agra. Varanasi during the Kumbh Mela was magic and I fell in love with the city. I created a solo called Svarupa-Vyakta and that piece was really lucky as I won many prizes for that. I have also created a couple of other pieces that were inspired by this country like 98288 and Hugs in Space.

Every year, I come here to understand the country better and rediscover and enjoy. And then I take what I collect during these trips and create something from there and share with people. For example, in Hugs in Space, which will premiere in Luxembourg soon, I have been inspired by the difference in the approach to hugs in Europe and India. Hugs are not that common in India, especially between couples, while it’s quite different in Europe.

If you had to describe your style of dancing, how would you put it?

Contemporary dance is very difficult to explain because we have so many fusions now. In Europe, we say it’s better to enter the army than a dance academy because it’s that strict; this is one way of maintaining the high level we have.

We have to say that all contemporary techniques come from postmodern work in dance and that was mostly happening in America. In Europe we had the evolution of this, which is contemporary. Contemporary is release, it is floor-work and fusions with Tai Chi, yoga and Gaga (a method from Israel).

So what I do and what any contemporary choreographer does depends on their background. My background is Cunningham, floor-work, physical, release and the Feldenkrais technique.

What do you think are the struggles in the realm of contemporary dance in India?

In India, I meet a lot of talented dance students and there is a huge dance community. But unfortunately, you don’t have knowledge of the western techniques. You are really good at the eastern ones but knowledge of the western ones is the key required if you want the doors of the West to open up for you.

In Europe, we don’t give dance scholarships at all as that is our way of ensuring the highest standard. What I try to do when I meet someone really talented is that once a year I send students to Europe for a scholarship because I know that for most of the talented students here, it’s not easy to bear the European costs. I have sent six people so far and this year, I have permission to send 10 people. From their feedback, they’re doing well for themselves, meeting amazing teachers, earning money and they have a real chance of becoming dancers. For me, knowing this is enough because I don’t get much more out of this.

Where do you think the future of contemporary dance is headed?

Contemporary dance is a very personal technique as the choreographer collects the best from all they did in the past. Nowadays, people travel so much all over the world that they are getting inspired all the time and can add new fusion. So the time is great for contemporary dance and you cannot see the end till this fusion continues. There is a new way to do what you already do — therefore it is personal. Contemporary dance is inspired by anything and everything and there is no limit.

You can view the workshop trailer here

Iranian artiste Makan Ashgvari’s experiments with sound and words

Artist interview with Makan Ashgvari for The Telegraph t2 by Anannya Sarkar. Read the full article online here

As an electronic musician, Makan Ashgvari likes to weave his surroundings into his creative work, like the sound of trucks lumbering on the roads of Tehran where he lives. As an artiste, Makan refuses to be compartmentalised, and to help more such independence in the creation of arts, he founded Otaghkar in Tehran as a platform for independent music in 2013. In Calcutta as part of the Dance Bridges Festival, Makan talked about making music in the alternative space, his career trajectory and To Trucks, his latest album, when t2 caught up with him at The Doodle Room on Garcha Road.

Your latest album, To Trucks, makes use of ambient sounds and merges them with electronic progressions. Can you take us through the process? 

Some people can be mad at me because I have distorted and destroyed some Iranian literature by changing the words, changing the orders of the lines of the poems and also mixing them together. So that’s not something you do to the classical Iranian literature as that’s the red line. The sounds I recorded while travelling, I distorted them, cut them, re-recorded them and transformed them. The sounds that I recorded while travelling are called Side A and I call the poems and songs that I borrowed from classical literature and transformed, Side B. So Side A is a geographic journey and Side B is a journey in time and I looked at my album as a tape, like you can play the other side. I hitchhiked a lot in Iran and while travelling I was seeing so many trucks on the road and even when I was back in Tehran — I would say a city so similar to Calcutta — I could also see trucks on the streets there, which was very odd. I thought that these trucks belong to the roads and not the city. The truck drivers treat the truck as a live person — for example, if you offer biscuits to a live person, they will say that the truck will be upset as the truck is like the host.

To the uninitiated, how would you explain what electronic music is?

I would say if you listen to a fluorescent, there is a noise, a sound; if you listen to a lamp, there is a sound. So for me the sound that goes through this process — it could be a nylon guitar, a sitar even, if it’s processed by these cables, it’s going to have this quality of electronic to it. But if you just listen to a singer without any microphone or speakers, that is acoustic music.

If you see MTV Unplugged, it’s a band you know, like Nirvana or Florence and the Machine, and they use acoustic instruments, still that has an electronic side to it as it’s going through amplifiers, cables and speakers. I don’t identify my music as electronic, you know. I think nowadays if you’re not listening to a sitar player in a room without a microphone and speakers, I think that’s the only acoustic music that exists. If it goes through a wire, it’s electronic.

Given that you are based out of Iran, what impact does the state have on your creativity?

It does, for sure. But this is also mostly unconscious. Like the first time I went to Europe, I understood that people don’t look at each other. And that was the first time I understood that in Iran, people look at each other. And, of course, there’s a political angle to it. It’s really various. For example, I sang Ain’t No Grave (most famously sung by Johnny Cash) and I added one verse: “When my mumma had me, There were bombs on Tehran, but now I am here, I am singing this song, I am here safe and sound, There ain’t no grave can hold my body down.” I think this verse fits into that American song and I think that I can have this similarity to an American artiste also. So it’s not only about your geography and your land. It has so many aspects.

Who are some of your influences in music, theatre and dance?

Nina Simone is definitely an influence —her diversity and her personality as someone who cares about what’s going on in the world. Also, Farhad, the Iranian singer. John Cage is an artiste with no limits and whose works I have performed. All my teachers have been great influences too.

Your poetry and lyrics have received praise. What do you set out to express when you write?

I don’t really think of that. A song is my thinking — the way my mind works sometimes. Like when you talk to yourself, you don’t really think of what to say. But of course in the process of editing, things might change. And so many of my songs come to life while improvising with others.

What are some of the struggles and benefits of being an alternative artiste in the 21st century?

The most important benefit is the Internet, which I think by mistake we musicians see as a thread, because sometimes we believe that every single product should be sold directly to the audience. We have to acknowledge the power of the Internet and appreciate it as a tool. The struggle is that of being focused. So many options, tools and facilities can confuse you sometimes.

“I think the audience enjoyed Makan’s innovative sound, visual presentation and the stories behind his creative process. It was on a very short notice that this project came into being” — Vanessa Mirza, director, Dance Bridges Festival


You can view the highlights of the artist talk here

Lucas Viallefond of Paris Opera School decodes Modern Dance

We were delighted to present a modern dance workshop with French artist, Lucas Viallefond, a modern dancer and a teacher at the Paris Opera School. The two-hour class was based on the Jooss-Leeder technique, developed by Hans Züllig and Jean Cébron, with contemporary barre work. We had a wonderful response with dancers from different parts of the Calcutta, Howrah and Murshidabad joining us. It was an excellent and inspiring learning experience.

We are grateful to the support by Sparsh Studio for Performing Arts, Alliance Francaise du Bengale and Buoyant Performing Arts in partnering with us for this event.



Read an artist interview and coverage of the workshop in The Telegraph t2 here.

Lucas Viallefond, a French modern dancer and teacher at the prestigious Paris Opera School, made a quick stop in the city on January 27 to teach a workshop as part of the Dance Bridges Festival. A dancer trained at the Conservatoire de Paris and Folkwang University of the Arts, Lucas has travelled to about 16 countries, teaching and dancing. t2 caught up with Lucas, who specialises in the Jooss-Leeder method, developed by Hans Zullig and Jean Cebron, at Sparsh Studio for Performing Arts…

What is the basic difference between contemporary dance and modern dance?

According to dance timelines, modern dance was created after ballet in the 1990s, as a response against ballet. In ballet, you have to have a perfect body and the perfect lines. People who didn’t have that but wanted to be dancers could not. If ballet dancers sported tight buns, modern dancers went with their hair flowing free and wild. If ballet dancers wore shoes, modern dancers went barefoot. If ballet dancers were in tutus, modern dancers chose to go almost naked. This was the beginning of modern dance. Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham in the US and Mary Wigman in Germany began to create a technique and this is modern dance, as it was really modern for the times. I can speak of contemporary dance in the French context. French people were tired of modern dance and created their version of contemporary dance. The basis of contemporary dance is idea —when you have ideas, you put it to form. It can be anything. It’s impossible to describe French contemporary dance. Each choreographer has a very specific way of moving. It can be someone rolling on the floor for hours or someone just performing striptease with eggs on their head. It’s much more of ideas than the body moving. Modern dance is almost set — when you see a piece by Martha Graham, you know it’s her work. I am more into body than the head, so it’s that kind of a difference for me.

What made you take up dance?

I live in a very small street in Brittany in the west of France where there is nothing. In France, we have a musical day that is celebrated on June 21 every year, the first day of summer for us. There are people going out to make music everywhere. I once drove with my mother to another village where I saw a dance performance by a dance teacher and I saw two guys from my college take part in it. I was 13 and I knew I could do better. But I really took up dance because I needed to express myself as I wasn’t very good at speaking to people. So first, I practised a lot of gymnastics and then I learnt a lot of music. But that wasn’t enough for my body. I had to express more and then I began dancing. My dance teacher forced me to learn ballet; she sent me to Paris and I got into the Conservatoire de Paris, where I learnt for five years. In my third year, I met Pina Bausch and got invited to Germany. I quit the school three years later and started teaching a lot. I came back to France and began dancing for a lot of companies and teaching at the same time. Then I was invited to Taiwan, from where I taught all over Asia. I think you can’t be a very good dancer without teaching. While teaching people, I corrected myself too.

What is the Jooss-Leeder method?
Based on Rudolf Laban’s principle of movement, the precise consciousness of one’s body in space and its dynamics form the basis of this approach. It’s not a technique, but a method. It’s based on the point of view of dance that is based on the science of quality and the science of space. You can divide the space into different points and then you have millions of ways of going about it. I can do direct and indirect movements or put a lot of strength or use light and quick movements, coming from or outside the body. My teaching is based on all these different qualities in specific points of the space. And it’s not a style but a method. I give keys to students on how to use their body and then they do what they want to do with that. So when I teach, I don’t like to choreograph because I don’t want them to dance like me because the point of view of a dancer is in him/her being unique.

What do you think about the future of modern dance?
I think modern dance is always evolving, so it’s nice to see that some people are trying to make it more creative. For me, the most interesting dancers are the ones who dance with feelings. I don’t like to see high legs and many turns. The one who dances with an intention makes the difference between the dancer and the artiste.

Modern dance is fairly less known. How can that be changed?
In order to make people more interested in modern dance, there should be more workshops with good teachers who give a lot in the class and try to help the dancers to be better.

Check out a video interview with the artist here.

Special Interview with artist Ido Tadmor (Israel)

Dance Bridges Festival had the privilege to interview renowned Israeli artist Ido Tadmor, celebrating over 30 years of an international dance career. Although schedules were tight, he and his dance partner for ‘The Empty Room’, Mira Rubinstein were in Kolkata for 48 hours especially to perform for Dance Bridges Festival 2017. Read the interview to know more about their experience and advice to young artists.

Dance Bridges: We are so happy to have you here with us for the second edition of Dance Bridges Festival (DBF).  Could you tell us what interested you to participate in DBF?

Ido Tadmor: My partner for this piece, Mira and I were very happy to be invited for the Festival and to land here. For us it is very important to bring our art around the world as part of a handshake, a collaboration, a dialogue, as part of making sure that art is above politics, above society, above everything else. For us art is not only something that we like to do, it is a way of living; it is almost like a religion for us. When we get up in the morning, every day we do our class, we do our rehearsals as part of a message that we both carry. It is a message of love – as I said before – of dialogue, collaboration, and that is why a festival like this is very important. It is very easy for us to take a piece to Paris, London or New York City, but we do not often get to travel across the world to perform in such a special event. I was very happy to arrive here and so is Mira.

Dance Bridges: We heard that you have a very busy schedule but you still came all the way here for 48 hours. How did you to manage to fit this in?

Ido Tadmor: With great difficulty I have to say. I have been travelling all my professional life but especially in the last three and a half, almost 4 years. I have basically been living from a suitcase, travelling from one place to the next, with 6-7 different collaborations and 6-7 different productions. In Calcutta we will not even be able to stay until the end of the evening. We will be leaving immediately to the airport as we are heading back to Israel for 2 days before flying to Romania for 2 days, then Israel, New York, Los Angeles, Poland, New York again and Los Angeles. So the schedule is very tight. But as I said before, a performance like this is very important because it takes a great deal of will to create a Festival in a city like Kolkata that is not used to performances like these. For me it is more important to perform here than perform in Europe or the United States. Because it is a real message, it takes a great deal of dedication and will from the Festival team and from the artistic directors of DBF to create something like this and that is why we wanted to be a part of it.

Dance Bridges: Could you tell us about your experience so far in Kolkata and at DBF? Would you come back again?

Ido Tadmor: I will start from the end. Definitely, we will come back again. For me it is not the first time in India. It is my 6th time in India. I have actually been to Mumbai and Delhi. However it is the first time in Kolkata so it was a little bit of a shock. The mentality is completely different from ours. But I always found India to be fascinating, challenging with a special grain of magic in it I would say. I would call this the beauty of the mess.  But I say it in the most positive way. It is as if I see life as it is. It is like a microcosm of the entire world. And it puts my life in perspective. I see the people here in India with such a kind and generous mentality; people are so nice, so friendly and that is why I always enjoy coming to India tremendously. The Festival has been conducted in the most professional way, the theatre is beautiful, the stage is beautiful and has a wonderful energy in it. So we will definitely come back, the question is whether you are going to invite us again!

Dance Bridges: Could you share with us something about your piece ‘The Empty Room’?

Ido Tadmor: This is a piece that was actually choreographed by the two of us. I always say that we choreographed it together because had it been someone else – other than Mira – it would have been a completely different piece. Mira and I are very close to each other and we have a very special bond. A part of this bond is that we like to tease each other, to play games together and I think this came into the piece. ‘The Empty Room’ is about this couple who meet at a young age and grow older together. In the end, the man loses his wife and this is why it is called ‘The Empty Room’: when he comes back to the room, it is empty… from her.

So we tried to stretch it from the funniest place to the saddest place. Like in life, we unfortunately all lose people we love in different ways. It is a tremendously difficult thing to go through. It is difficult but it is something we have to go through. This piece was performed in many different places around the world including the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia which is one of the most amazing theatres in the world. We are always very curious to see how the audience will respond; because it is a very quirky funny piece but not everyone understands it. It is very different from what we are used to doing. We are classical modern dancers and this piece has a very strange atmosphere and movement style, so we enjoy the challenge.

Dance Bridges: We hear that you’re celebrating 38 years of international dance, could you tell us about your journey so far?

Ido Tadmor: Well I am very blessed in my career, blessed to be a principal dancer with some very special companies and I am also now a guest dancer with many different internationally renowned companies.  It is a life that I chose and it is not very easy to live on airplanes all the time and not to have…, I have my own home in Israel but not to be there all the time. But it is a life that I chose, a life that is challenging and one I am very happy to live. So, I think for me, it was never enough to just dance. For me it was about meeting people, it was about teaching people, it was about working with collaborators and choreographing for people in different countries, actually trying to explore dance on all sides and that is why it is very important for me to see and get to know different mentalities. I have really travelled all around the world – the Far East, Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, South America, Africa… Really traveling and meeting many wonderful people, artists. I think that in general – Mira and I talk about it a lot – we feel very blessed that this is our life. It is not very easy but that is not a complaint, just a fact. As long as we can do it, we will continue doing it.

Dance Bridges: If you could say something to inspire young dancers in this field, what would you tell them?

Ido Tadmor: WORK, WORK AND WORK. For me the most important talent one can have is the talent of work. I have seen wonderful dancers with wonderful facilities and great technique. Basically they utilize 40 or 50 per cent of their talent. And I have seen less talented people who had the talent of work and they utilized 100 percent of their talent. So if I could inspire someone, it is by presenting myself as someone who loves to work. I work all the time, every day from morning to evening, sometimes until night. I think it is the work and the dedication that I put into my art that took me all over the world. So for me the most important thing is to experience, to work, to research deeply and then just send it to the world.

And to close, I just want to say, in our profession we meet so many dancers, great dancers and we rarely find great partners because it is about chemistry. It is like in life when you fall in love with someone, it can be a good marriage or a bad marriage. We are not married but we – Mira and I – have a good marriage as dance partners. Because our friendship really comes into rehearsals and onto stage and this is very rare. I feel very blessed that Mira is here with me to share this wonderful experience. Thank you for the generosity and everything, it has been really heart touching.

[Special thanks to Ido Tadmor and Mira Rubinstein for being with us at Dance Bridges Festival 2017. The performance of ‘The Empty Room’ was made possible by the support of the Embassy of Israel (New Delhi), as part of the celebrations of 25 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel.]