Indo-French Malraux Seminar 2019-2020


Dance Bridges represented by Festival Director, Vanessa Maria Mirza was pleased to be a part of the Malraux Seminar organized by the French Institute in India. An excerpt from a report by Institut Francais (New Delhi, India) of the meetings in September 2019 and May 2020. Download the full report here. India expresses an ongoing interest for urban issues, public spaces and artistic involvement in these areas, offering France an interesting opportunity of cooperation and exchange. France has a real expertise in designing artistic projects in public spaces, as demonstrated through festivals and other initiatives mainly led by public authorities. While cultural operators in India also develop creative and innovative projects across the territory, they still face many difficulties and constraints related to the complex and multidimensional nature of public spaces. To this end, the Malraux Seminar aimed to be a platform for encounters and dialogue, bringing together Indian and French stakeholders from practitioners, architects, urbanists, academics and cultural project managers to Government officials. The two-day symposium inquired into public art interventions, its challenges, and actions necessary to guide urban art projects forward. As smart city initiatives progressively consider art in its policy making, the conference created an open conversation to collectively discuss resources and best practices. The proceedings broke the intricacies of sustainable Public Art projects into 3 main themes with 5 roundtables. Public art is influential in creating a more vibrant and participatory urban space. The case studies presented opened an exchange on making art that is more inclusive, and forging partnerships to enable financial or in-kind support. Such artistic manifestations reanimate interest in a city and augment global interest and tourism. As public art projects bring back forgotten legacies and lesser known districts on the cultural map,there is a need for greater education and exposure for all the stakeholders who conduct such interventions, from the grassroot level to the state authorities. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, several of the Seminar’s conclusions have been challenged and many questions and issues raised on the future of art and culture in a post-pandemic public space. Taking off from the 5 original ones, a virtual round table was organised in May 2020 that brought together all the participants to share their experiences, thoughts and concerns on both the current situation and the future of public art projects in a post-covid world. This final exchange raised several points on urban public art, and a lot of food for thought in anticipation of the future.

CINARS Biennale 2018

‘Since 1984, every two years in Montreal, CINARS has been organizing one of the most important international showcases and networking events, gathering more than 1 900 professionals hailing from over 54 countries including 433 show presenters, some of whom are the most influential in the business. During one week, 170 shows from Quebec, elsewhere in Canada, and abroad grace the stages while workshops, networking events, as well as an exhibition hall are teeming with participants in some of Montreal’s main cultural venues.

After 18 editions, the CINARS Biennale has made a name for itself as a must-see multidisciplinary event in which participants can develop real international touring opportunities, build solid relationships with stakeholders from all over the world, and sharpen their professional skill set and knowledge base.’

– CINARS Biennale (

Dance Bridges was at the 18th edition of CINARS Biennale 2018 in Montreal, Canada for an amazing week of performances, presentations and discussions. Festival Director Vanessa Maria Mirza was also invited to speak in the The Great Knowledge Cafe session with the theme ‘The Art of Building bridges around the world’. This was a wonderful activity hosted by CINARS & CAPACOA as a unique and dynamic platform of learning, transforming and networking. It was an excellent time of exchange led by Dance Bridges( Kolkata) & Open Look (St.Petersburg). ‘CINARS was a great experience’,says Vanessa, ‘and I look forward to more international and particularly Canadian partnerships and collaborations being built through this event.’

Encountering French Artists & the dance & art of Paris & Lyon

An article by Vanessa Maria Mirza, Founder-Director, Dance Bridges Festival, attending the Biennale de la Danse in Lyon and other performances and artist meetings in Paris.

‘It was indeed a great delight for me to be invited as an international delegate for the 18th edition of the Biennale de la danse, Lyon supported by Institut Francais, ONDA and Maison de la Danse. I share here some of the highlights of my visit for a two-week period in Paris and Lyon. It has been a very enriching experience that has not only inspired me personally but also proved very useful in making connections to build future collaborations with Dance Bridges (Kolkata).

The Focus Danse and Biennale de la Danse was one of the best dance platforms/festivals I have seen so far. I appreciated that the performances were curated across a wide range of spaces and theatres and I got to see many different performance venues. It was the first time for me to see many well-known French choreographers like Jerome Bel and Maguy Marin but also I was glad to see work from many young emerging and mid-career artists. Both in Lyon and later in Paris, I was impressed by the broad concept of dance that was reflected in the performances I saw, the use of digital technology, staging and visual elements and also the amazing skills and abilities of the performers.

It was inspiring and intriguing at the same time. Rachid Ouramdance’s work ‘Franchir La nuit’ performed at the Lyon Opera House was really beautiful, especially with the way he choreographed the piece using young dancers. Yoann Bourgeouis’ ‘Histories Naturalles 24 Tentatives, D’Approaches D’Un Point de Suspension’ performed at Musee Guimet, was also stunning in the techniques used and ideas explored, woven within a
tightly knit choreography.

In Paris, I enjoyed very much watching Israel Galvan’s brilliant ‘Gatomaquia’ (a flamenco solo performed in a circus tent and incorporating the Romanian gypsies from the circus into this version of the performance), Circe Plume ‘La Derniere Saison’ (a contemporary French circus in their last season performing with strong dramatic content, live music and exceptionally beautiful sets and lighting) and Maguy Marin’s ‘Cinderella’ performed by the Lyon Opera-Ballet Company (eloquent and fascinating in her interpretation of the story and particularly with the use of masques). I was also able to watch a number of interesting works at the Les Plateaux Festival at Theatre Jean Vilar and at La Briqueterie by mostly emerging artists.

At the Dansathon which I was able to attend on the last day of the Biennale in Lyon, I saw some very exciting presentations. The participants engaged with dance and technology in new ways using augumented and virtual reality to bring dance closer to the wider public. The prize winning project was ‘An Internet Connected Dance Space’ where through a mobile app, dancers at different points of the globe could dance at the same time and share in an experience with the help of digital media. We also saw videos of the simultaneous process that has taken place in London and Liege.While I don’t list all the names and artists here, I was able to watch about 26 different pieces through my visit, and it was absolutely fantastic for me both as an artist and programmer.

Through the weeks that followed both at the Biennale in Lyon and in Paris I was able to talk with many very interesting French and international choreographers and producers. It was lovely to see some artists who have been a part of Dance Bridges and some that we met at Aerowaves.

At the ONDA meetings I had the wonderful opportunity to be introduced to a number of artistic programmers from France and other countries that I was meeting for the very first time. The session I attended in Miribel on ‘Dance in Public Spaces’ was a very useful discussion to learn more about how other festivals and programmers have been working with artists in this area of performance in their own regions, while also getting know about many projects/artists who have interesting creations/research in this area. Later in Paris, I also had the pleasure of visiting the ONDA Office to meet with Regis Plaud to understand more about ONDA’s work with performing arts and also exchange information about Dance Bridges and my own projects in India.

It was a special privilege for me to have visit and tour a few venues for dance creation and performance including Theatre de la Ville, Parc de la Villete, La Briqueterie and Centre National de Danse in Paris. It was exhilarating for me to learn more about how things operate at each of these spaces, but also understand more about the design, concept and planning that went into each of them. I had many interesting conversations on how they engage with
artists and the community.

A favourite part of my time in France as a visual artist and curator was being able to visit many art museums, galleries and exhibitions. I have a strong interest in the Impressionists and so was very glad to see many beautiful Impressionist paintings at the Musée de l’Orangerie and Musee Montmarttan Monet. I also enjoyed the contemporary art collections at Centre Georges Pompidou which is such a fascinating space and I loved the gorgeous views of Paris at sunset. I was able to visit Musee Jacquemarte-Andre with a new exhibition on the Italian painter Caravaggio that was really exquisite and the first of its kind in Paris. I also had special visit to Cite de la musique with a tour by Philippe Bruguière at the Musée de la musique, showing us the rare and beautiful collection of musical instruments. In Lyon I was able to visit of Museum of Art and was so enthralled by their fabulous collection of artwork and art objects.

This trip wouldn’t have been possible without certain individuals taking an interest in the work I do and I would like to thank those who conceived and orchestrated this visit on very short notice. My deep gratitude to Claire Verlet, Alice Brunot & the Institut Francais team, Regis Plaud, Karthika Nair and Thomas Belus among many others for their kind and wonderful support in making this such a rich experience for me. I am truly changed by my time in France, and I know it will have a deep impact on my person and my artistic practice. Merci beaucoup!

Aerowaves & Spotlight USA 2018 (Bulgaria)

March 2018 saw the Dance Bridges team represented by Pierre Palluet and Vanessa Maria Mirza at two international dance platforms in Bulgaria. It was a great honour to be the only Indian Festival participating in both these prestigious international events.

Aerowaves’s annual festival Spring Forward festival was held in Sofia from 23rd-25th March, 2018 in collaboration with Derida Dance Centre. Aerowaves is an international forum representing emerging and exciting new talent in Europe with a partner network of 33 countries and promoting dance artists through cross-border performances. It was an exciting time as our team members met with performing arts professionals from different parts of Europe and interacted with several artists performing at the festival. Amongst these many meetings it was a great pleasure for our team to re-connect with artist Alfredo Miralles ,a part of the Springback Academy for writers. Alfredo was one of the artists who performed at Dance Bridges Festival 2017 in Kolkata.

Dance Bridges is grateful to Aerowaves for this invitation and hopes the connections made can develop into bring more work from Europe to India while building valuable artistic exchanges.

To read more about the event have a look at their website here:

Spring Forward was followed by 3 days of American dance showcases for Spotlight USA in Plovdiv from 26th-28th March 2018 in collaboration with One Dance Week. The programme had artists performing a wide range of pieces with panel disccussions and feedback sessions weaved into the schedule as well. As a second invitation from American Dance Abroad our team was delighted to meet with so many new artists as well as international programmers. We once again had a reunion with friends and connections from the dance world and thoroughly enjoyed our time in Plovdiv. Indeed we hope to continue to grow and expand our associations with American artists with even greater participation in Dance Bridges events through the years to come.

To read more about American Dance Abroad and their upcoming events, you can visit their website:

Joining the world with Dance Bridges Festival

Stepping into its second edition, the biennial Dance Bridges Festival under the aegis of Vanessa Maria Mirza, director, and Dam Van Huynh, associate director, brought together over 70 artistes from 17 countries as they deftly continued with their objective of building a cultural bridge between local and international communities. The festival titled New Panoramas: In You I See My Dance, held from August 22 to 29 across five locations comprising contemporary dance performances, dance installations, workshops and film-screenings, presented a unique opportunity to the people of Calcutta to discover international artistes who, for most of them, were performing in India for the first time.

Pierre Palluet, the artistic programmer of the festival, pens a piece for t2 (Read the article online here)


The inaugural evening kicked off at the ICCR sculpture court on August 22 with Il Castrata by Beatriz Madrid from Foramen M Ballet (Mexico). The striking performance of a young woman strapped to the floor, desperately trying to escape the trap she had fallen into, was choreographed to play on emotions of endurance, struggle and triumph. A couple of dancers burst into the space later, constantly pushing, pulling and lifting each other in some sort of unresolved dispute with a choreographic language as they performed A Draft by Dam Van Huynh (UK).

Amarcord by Lin Yu-Ju (Taiwan) took the audience on a gentle journey of a couple, filled with tenderness, memories and mutual rediscovery. This was followed by Bea Debrabant (France) performing a striking solo called Esperanza. The evening ended with Make the Switch from Me by Birute Letukaite from Aura Dance Theatre (Lithuania). As the lights went out, the audience still seemed enraptured by the evening they had just experienced.


The second performance evening on August 24 at GD Birla Sabhagar started with the quirky and comic duet The Empty Room by Ido Tadmor (Israel), depicting the joys and struggles of a couple in their relationship. Then taking centre stage was Diya Naidu (Bangalore) with Red Dress Waali Ladki, boldly addressing the serious issues encountered by women in India.

Lidy performed by Marcos Rossi from Foramen M Ballet was an intimate piece that began with the dancers exploring each other in silence as if walking on a tight rope, constantly shifting balance. This silent work had a meditative aspect, creating an interesting contrast to the hyperactive sound-scape of the city. The audience then encountered the fiery duet performers Ieva Navickaite and Tommaso Petrolo performing Under This Weight by Dam Van Huynh and Marcos Rossi performing Gestoanimal.

Surjit Nongmeikapam (Manipur) closed the evening with his installation — The Dance Without a Name. Crawling along a ray of light, rolling out paper and spreading salt and sand all over the floor, the performer used various mediums to bring the audience into a different realm, inviting them to let go and enjoy the visual and aural experience.


The third evening, also at GD Birla Sabhagar, on August 25 began with 12 dancers from the National Youth Dance Company (Scotland) performing Maelstrom by Anna Kenrick — a piece bursting with energy and humour. Disco by Teita Iwabuchi (Japan) had the vibes of a night out in town through the use of loud music and strobe lights.

Just after this came the ‘Crossover Project’ with a powerful piece — Under This Weight by Dam Van Huynh — made in Calcutta during the festival involving Indian and international artistes that showed 10 performers often dancing in unison and reaching a point of continuous free fall that felt as if the floor had given way and there was no other choice but to fall.

Tien Hsiao-Tzu (Taiwan) entered the space covered with cloth from head to toe, with the fitted cloth stretching as the dancer moved and performed a piece titled Stem. The evening ended with a performance by the strong female cast of Aura Dance Theatre, delivering a tight work perfectly timed as they performed Godos by Anne Ekenes and Pia Holden.


The festival closed with a site-specific performance at the beautiful surroundings of Daga Nikunj. The evening started with a piece made in the city during the choreographic residency programme of the festival with artistes from India, Bangladesh and Canada working with the Van Huynh Company. The dancers took the audience on a journey from room to room and even invited them into the dance. This interactive experience allowed the audience to engage intimately with the artistes

The audience was then gathered into the same room where Alfredo Miralles (Spain) performed The Augmented Body, a highly poetic performance using real-time interaction with digital projections. The audience was also invited to come out into the garden, where artistes from the National Youth Dance Company welcomed them with Yael Flexer’s Re-place. The dancers braved the mud in the garden as they danced their heart out.

“It’s been brilliant to see everything come together so well. This time we’ve worked quite differently, having an international open call to artistes and working with a team based in London, Taipei and Calcutta,” said Vanessa.
Apart from the performances, Dance Bridges Festival partnered with Nandan to screen short films like Atomos by Wayne McGregor and Mr. Gaga by Tomer Heymann, beside conducting workshops for local artistes.








American Dance Recon (ADR) 2017

Director Vanessa Maria Mirza was invited to attend American Dance Recon (ADR) organised by American Dance Abroad in July 2017. Vanessa wrote for the ADR blog about her experience this summer. ( Read the original article here )

“It was very exciting for our International Artistic & Programming Committee that a representative of Dance Bridges Festival, Kolkata, India was invited to attend American Dance Recon (ADR) 2017. We are a young and edgy festival of international dance focusing on building artistic and cultural exchanges between local and international artists, and have only just completed our second edition.

The conference and week-long event of ADR was only days before Dance Bridges Festival 2017 opened, but the opportunity to watch American dance performances, meet artists and explore new performance venues and arts spaces was too tempting to resist. As the Director of Dance Bridges Festival, I have received a few invitations to global dance platforms in recent years, but this was my first occasion to explore American dance more deeply with a range of different artists and genres within Philadelphia, New York City, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and other artist residency spaces, studios and venues throughout the Berkshires.

My impressions of American Dance Recon now come as a rush of many different images and moments that deeply impacted me. It was a special experience to be guided through this variety of dance impulses along with a very eclectic group of international artists and programmers from Panama City, Shanghai, Tokyo, Lublin, Budapest, and Vancouver, as well our lovely American Dance Abroad hosts: Andrea Snyder from New York, NY and Carolelinda Dickey and Bonnie Gloris from Pittsburgh, PA.

I really didn’t expect such a wide programming spectrum, and I was grateful for the knowledge I gained through this multi-city exposure to art, culture and dance in America. We saw dance theatre, experimental, musical, contemporary hip hop/break dance, cabaret – some pieces that were pure dance-based choreography, others more theatrical, using text, song, many different props, contemporary ballet, and more.

I was struck by the individuality of artists from different cities and regions of America. I had a certain preconception about what present-day dance performance and choreography might be like in the U.S., and that was definitely expanded and changed. It left me feeling invigorated, and I found it thought-provoking, even if sometimes slightly offended. There are definitely artists and works that, as a programmer, I know would suit my region and Festival more than others. I very much appreciated that American Dance Abroad was not just providing a marketplace for Festivals and venues, but, in fact, something much deeper and richer.

The cultural and artistic appreciation of our journey feels absolutely invaluable, from learning about artist roots and dance company structures in Philadelphia from Joan Myers Brown and Lois Welk, to watching San Francisco-based choreographer Amy Seiwert present her first full-length ballet at the Joyce Theatre, to visiting Stephen Petronio’s beautiful new Crow’s Nest residency space, and seeing Adam Weinert’s interpretation of Ted Shawn’s solos in an abandoned high school in Hudson. Also, looking at blueprints and construction of The Lumberyard – a production-based residency program and space, watching some fabulous dance performances by choreographers like Doug Varone at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, looking through the archives and library with Norton Owen, and seeing young dancers perform on the beautiful open air stage, with the perfect frame of the Bershires all round. Finally, a visit to the MassMoCA museum and an American picnic and fireworks at Tanglewood.

I must thank our hosts once again for a wonderful time with artists of ranging maturity. Each performance was also at a different level of production, with some very young artists coupled with mature and inter-generational artists. I am left excited to build on my connections from this experience, and I certainly hope to strengthen ties with the American artists I have interacted with. Dance Bridges looks forward to developing relationships and being a channel to support liaisons with India.”



Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign: Support our 2017 edition!

“A truly contemporary festival of dance… one of its stature in India! An extremely valuable effort – for opening exchanges of ideas, aesthetic experience, and creative journeys!”

– Dr. Urmimala Sarkar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

” I have heard of Dance Bridges Festival and its impact on the dance community from my friends in Kolkata. I got to meet Vanessa, the director, last year and I was so impressed by her determination. The passion she shares and her enthusiasm to keep the festival going despite all the hurdles she faces is what sets her apart. It is a great initiative and it needs all the support”

-Meera Krishnan (Prakriti Foundation)

We have recently launched a  crowdfunding campaign  to raise additional funds to help cover technical costs, artist accommodation charges and production expenses. Watch our campaign video here .It would be wonderful to have your support in this endeavour.

We believe in the power of community and the collective creativity of artists working together. We believe that Dance Bridges Festival 2017 will impact many different lives in powerful ways by:

  • Bringing a new platform for international performance to the city of Kolkata
  • Making participation inclusive and accessible to new audiences and people of all socio-economic backgrounds by running events on a non-profit basis
  • Encouraging and empowering young dancers in their pursuit of a professional career
  • Nurturing local and international talent through the residency project, internship training, workshops and opportunities of collaboration
  • Imparting educative and fun experiences for everyone to encounter dance through various mediums and from different perspectives
  • Building long term relationships across cultures to enable ambitious artistic exchanges
  • Enabling the international community to experience the history, culture and creative atmosphere of a city like Kolkata and other places in India

We look forward to your support in making this exciting second edition of the Festival a grand success. We hope you can join us in Kolkata for the event, but even if you can’t, do stay connected with Dance Bridges. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Email your queries to Thank you!



TPAM Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama 2017

Dance Bridges Festival was at TPAM 2017 hosted in Yokohama from 11th-19th February through the support of  Japan Foundation Asia Centre (New Delhi).

This is an excellent platform for networking professionals in the arts community with over 500 delegates including artists, festival directors, representatives from performing arts venues and cultural houses, producers, managers and government officials based in Japan as well as across the international arts community.

TPAM runs under the format of several different programmes, TPAM Direction, TPAM Exchange and TPAM Fringe. Each of these incorporate different areas of performance showcases by mature and upcoming artists, symposiums, artist talks, group meetings and speed networking.

A few highlights & insights from the trip:

  • There is a new focus on developing Asia as an epicentre for performing arts internationally and hence a growing emphasis on commissioning and producing more collaborative projects among Asian and other international artists.
  • Some of the performances presented across genres included ‘Fever Room’, ‘Performance Encyclopedia’, ‘Samut Thai:Unfinished Histories’, ‘Zero One’, ‘Ngoc Dai/Senyawa’,’Taipei Notes’,’Road to Evil Spirit’, ‘Be Careful’, ”Tower'(theatre), Layer/Angle/Composition’ and ‘Balabala’.
  • A symposium was hosted by European Dancehouse Networks (EDN), which focusses on connecting performance venues and production houses (expanding now to festivals) and there was a discussion on the possibility an Asian network for the same.
  • Dance Bridges Festival co-lead a group meeting session on Meets Asia:Dance & Outreach, where Director Vanessa Maria Mirza was a panelist alongwith Beijing based Festival Director Zi Xhao and Vientienne(Laos) based We Dance Company dance artist Phanthamith (Lucky) Phommachanh. The discussion was very well received with a number of questions about the future plans of the Festival. Several artists and producers showed a keen interest in developing projects with Dance Bridges Festival and visiting Kolkata/India for this purpose.
  • Japan hosts a large variety of very good artist residencies and we connected with some directors hosting programmes in Tokyo and Kyoto that are wonderful opportunities for both professional and emerging artists to apply for. There is a wonderful creative atmosphere conducive to artistic research and some of the best facilities to help support these endeavours.
  • The Artists’ Salon hosted by a team of eleven music, theatre, digital arts and dance artists from Europe was a very interesting session with a broad range of artistic expertise, talent and productions being showcased. Again it was lovely to view some of their collaborative projects with Asian artists.
  • Speed Networking or just networking was absolutely fantastic at TPAM and was not limited to only the official sessions. TPAM created such a warm and friendly environment to connect that whether it was at the ticket line, coffee shop, street crossing, breakfast buffet or late night meeting point at Amazon Club, making introductions and swapping business cards was the most natural thing!

We were so glad to have been at TPAM 2017, and look forward to building  and developing this new association with Japanese artists, producers and collaborators through the TPAM arts network and support of Japan Foundation Asia Centre for some exciting new projects through the months ahead.