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

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: http://aerowaves.org/

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: https://americandanceabroad.org/

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. http://lucasviallefond.com/en/ 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.

Dance Improvisation Jam

We hosted our first Dance Improvisation Jam with young dancers gathering in The Doodle Room and guests artists Devarshi Kar(Percussionist) and Abhishek Banerjee (Visual Artist) adding to the flavour of the evening. It was a special night as creative energy flowed through the room, and sparked new ideas for dance collaborations and projects. Thanks once again to everyone who joined us for this.

Read about the event in the Telegraph t2 here.

Do have a look at some of the event videos on our Facebook page.

Stay tuned for more information on jam sessions in the future.

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.]


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 info@dancebridges.in. Thank you!



Dance Bridges Festival 2017: Artist Previews

Dance Bridges proudly presents the preview of the programme for the second edition of the Festival. The theme for this year’s curation is New Panoramas, ‘In you I see my dance’. Selections for the Festival have been made by the International Artistic & Programming Committee based in London, Taipei & Kolkata.
The event will take place between 22nd-29th August 2017 in Kolkata, India with a few projects starting earlier in the month. A wide range of international artists who will be performing, teaching workshops, sharing films and special talks. Dance Bridges is honored to welcome artists from Israel, France, India, Taiwan, United States of America, United Kingdom and many more nationalities.
Two new initiatives for this edition are the Internship programme and the Crossover Dance Project.  The internships are for young arts professionals/ college level students interested in acquiring hands on training in Festival Management. The Crossover Dance project looks at working with a collective from local and Festival artists to recreate an excerpt of a choreography by an international artist.
A special focus is also put on the celebration of the 25 years of “Growing Partnership” between Israel and India and the UK-India Year of Culture celebrating 70 years of cultural relations between the two countries.
Join us in Kolkata for the event. The Festival will take place across an array of venues, large theaters, intimate spaces, studios, galleries, cinemas and auditoriums, details of which will be published soon. Stay updated on schedules for the events and if you would like to be more involved, send us an email at info@dancebridges.in.