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.



Message from the Director, Dance Bridges Festival 2017

In preparation for our second edition in 2017, Dance Bridges Festival will see a change in organizational structure, expanding local & international partnerships and collaborations. Read below a special message from the Festival Director, Vanessa Mirza:
‘Dance Bridges Festival 2015 would not have been possible without the support of Dance Alliance Kolkata as our main partner. It is wonderful to have a shared vision for artistic and cultural exchange within an international context and platform for dance in Kolkata, India. While Dance Alliance Kolkata and the international network of World Dance Alliance continue to support Dance Bridges Festival, we are now in the process of developing as an independent organization.
We will soon launch Dance Bridges as a registered society for the purpose of hosting the Festival and other associated events. We are currently completing formalities for this shift and the Executive Board will be representative of Kolkata’s dance, arts, music, education, business and cultural communities. The Festival is also supported by an International Artistic & Programming Committee, Advisory Board & Organizational Partners & Sponsors.
As part of the International Artistic & Programming Committee, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Dam Van Huynh (Artistic Director, Van Huynh Company/ Centre 151, London, United Kingdom) has joined us as the Associate Director of Dance Bridges Festival 2017. We also welcome on board two international programmers, Chieh-Hua (Jeff) Hsieh, (Artistic Director, Anarchy Dance Theatre, Taipei, Taiwan) and Pierre Palluet (Dance/Music Artist Producer & Centre Manager, Centre 151, London, United Kingdom). It is wonderful to have such accomplished artistic associates work alongside with the team in Kolkata to curate and plan for the event in 2017.

We wish all the applicants the very best as they send in their proposals and look forward to an exciting series of performances, workshops, films and other festival activities. For any information regarding Dance Bridges Festival 2017 please write to us at
Vanessa Mirza (Director, Dance Bridges Festival)

Open Call for Artist Applications


We welcome artists from all over the globe to apply for the 2017 edition of Dance Bridges Festival, in Kolkata, India. Guidelines to applications are available here. Categories include performances, workshops, films, (deadline Tuesday, 1st November 2016) choreographic residency (performance opportunity) and festival internships (deadline Sunday, 1st January 2017).

Dance Bridges Festival at British Dance Edition, UK 2016

Dance Bridges Festival was represented at the British Dance edition 2016, by Festival Director, Vanessa Maria Mirza invited as an international delegate for this year’s event in Cardiff &Newport, Wales. The four day event held across four venues- Wales Millennium Centre, The River Front Theatre, Chapter Arts Centre & National Dance Company Wales- included performances from 36 companies and independent artists from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, as well as 72 dance companies as part of the trade show along with 11 pitching companies. It was a great convergence of artists, producers and promoters from all over the world with that came to watch a diverse range of contemporary dance and theatre performances from the UK.

Vanessa shares her experience as: “I would like to thank British Council, India and the Arts team in Kolkata for recommending me as a delegate for BDE 2016. It was really wonderful getting to meet so many different people from the dance sector and get to know more about their work as well share with them about the vision we have for Dance Bridges and the Festival as a biennial international dance event. I enjoyed watching the different performances which represented many different approaches to contemporary choreography and performance. It was an intense schedule, as we were often watching performances from early in the day to past midnight on some evenings. It was worth shelving the jet lag though, and I enjoyed every aspect of the BDE experience. I was glad to meet some old friends again and make alot of new connections. With 2017 being a special year for UK & India as a year of cultural exchange, I do hope we showcase some more artists from the UK in the next edition of Dance Bridges Festival.”

Watch the highlights of the British Dance Edition 2016 here.


Footwork, Fusion & Friendship with T2

Cutting edge contemporary footwork, traditional styles, workshops, film screenings, Dance Bridges Festival partnered by t2 and held from August 6-10, across various venues in Kolkata, started a cultural exchange and built a bridge between local and international artists, apart from offering some stunning dance productions. Pierre Palluet, producer Van Huynh Company (UK), participant, audience member and volunteer in Dance Bridges Festival- pens a Festival diary…

Read the report online here

Day 1: Meet and Greet

Most of the international artists have landed in Calcutta, some are still arriving from London, Paris, Vienna, Taipei, Buffalo (USA), Malmo (Sweden)and Delhi.

Already this is music to my ears: an international encounter taking place in Calcutta to create a new platform for Indian and international dance artists, choreographers, musicians, performers, teachers, students, researchers and dance enthusiasts.

Names of the participants start spinning in my head, evoking points on all sides of the globe: Arun, Rocío, Martyna, Saurabh, I-Fen, Sydney, Urmimala, Elin, Yu-Chieh, Emelie, Suman, Chieh-hua, Dam, Meghna, Vanessa, Yu-Wen, Prasanna, Zach, Mitul, Amanda, Tomas, Vikram, Janet, Ieva, Sohini…These are more than 20 participants who over the next 5 days will perform, create, deliver talks and run workshops in Calcutta for the community and local artists.

This first day is all about getting to know each other. For the international artists it’s also time to orientate themselves around Calcutta and to get used to the special beat of the city. In the evening, all gather for a meal at one of the participants’ house, all excited to be sharing this unique experience.

Day 2: The Ideas Begin To Flow

The workshops are on in full swing around the city-at The Calcutta School of Music, Sparsh Studio and Rhythmosaic. Workshops are a fantastic opportunity to connect with the community and local artists. Open to everyone, the workshops at Dance Bridges brushed over a broad range of dances and styles from around the world- Manipuri, Kathak, Contemporary, African, jazz- opening a conversation between cultures to share knowledge and new ideas. It is heart-warming to meet this crowd of curious participants.

Today is also the first main performance night at Kala Mandir  and the audiences are enthralled by dance works from the UK, Taiwan, India, France and the USA. Putting on a show of this scale requires great team work between dance artists, technicians, sound engineers, lighting designer and volunteers.

Day 3: Resonance, Far and Wide

In the morning, audience, artists and academics gather at Goethe Institut Max Mueller Bhavan to listen to presentations on current issues within the creative field and also address audience’s questions about yesterday’s shows.

It is fascinating to hear them all. I realise how varied and vast the dance world is; at the same time how close the dance community around the world is in terms of values. The speakers share with us their belief in the power of art and dance to change lives and communicate on a deeper level.

The second night of performance at Kala Mandir featured works from India, Austria, the UK and the US and a range of contemporary dance works reflecting modern society and current issues. It is astonishing to see how much each artist reveals of his own culture through his/her performance. The last piece of the programme “Resonance” is the result of a three week residency during which UK dance artist Dam Van Huynh created a work on a group of local artists.

Day 4: Doing the Touristy Thing

Taking a break from the stage the festival artists are up for a different kind of footwork. Some of the international participants accompanied by local artists and volunteers hit the streets for some sightseeing, exploring Victoria Memorial and the New Market and taking a boat ride on the Hooghly. These are moments when local and international artists get to create strong friendships.

Day 5: And it’s a wrap

It is the last day of the festival and there is an air of nostalgia. Audience, artists and academics gather again at the Goethe Institut for the last conference. The speakers draw attention to the fact that dance is still undervalued and that alot needs to be done to promote it. They also emphasize the importance of research and need to have an open-mind, to accept all dance styles and learn from each other.

Dance Bridges has built a special relationship with Swedish based Screen Dance Festival to curate a programme of dance films over two days in collaboration with Goethe Institut and  Delhi-based Gati Dance Forum. In the afternoon some of these are screened as part of Dance Film Screenings at Goethe-Institut.

Running and international dance festival like Dance Bridges is like running a marathon, you need endurance. And for that I want to thank Vanessa Mirza the festival director of Dance Bridges Festival.


Building Bridges through Dance

Vanessa Mirza, Director, Dance Bridges Festival, Kolkata, India 2015, writes about her experience of organising a multi-dimensional dance festival in Kolkata. The British Council was one of many partners of the festival, which concluded recently. ( Read the article online here)

The Dance Bridges Festival is a new initiative for dance and the performing arts in Kolkata by Dance Alliance Kolkata. The theme: “Talking Points in Choreography; Dialogues Across Cultures” emerged from a personal curiosity as a choreographer to know more about the creative process of different artists and how cultural influences affect choreographic works.

In curating performances for the Festival, I selected works that highlight this individuality and specificity, sometimes in subtle ways in others more overtly. Artists for the Festival included Van Huynh Company (UK), Anarchy Dance Theatre (Taiwan), I-Fen Tung (Taiwan), Sydney Skov (USA), Janet Reed (USA),Tomas Danielis (Austria), Rocio Berenguer (France), Prasanna Saikia & Buoyant Performing Arts (India). There were also special presentations and workshops by Waileth & Bardon (Sweden) & Meghna Bhardwaj (New Delhi).

Every artist and piece carried a different flavour that is a result of a personal history of dance training, choreographic style, creative decisions but also a reflection of cultural perceptions, thinking and infiltrations. It has been a great pleasure to network with different artists and provide for their needs creating an international experience for performing arts right here in Kolkata.

A very special part of the Dance Bridges Festival, was a three-week residency with artists from the Van Huynh Company in Kolkata with local dancers. Choreographer, Dam Van Huynh created a beautiful work titled “Resonance” with a company of five local artists and dancer Ieva Navickaite for the Festival. The 20-minute piece has original music accompaniment by Martyna Poznanska created from environmental sounds she recorded live in Kolkata.

Along with performances, the Festival included a section of film screenings with 20 dance films from over 14 countries. The dance films were curated in collaboration with Screendance Festival Sweden, Goethe Institut Kolkata, Gati Dance Forum and other independent artists. This was a truly unique part of the Festival and brought audiences insights into choreographic developments in dance as an art in the medium of film from across the world. During the Festival there were also several workshops in eastern and western styles of dance at different studios in the city providing another platform for sharing knowledge, connection and exchange.

As the artistic director and producer for the Festival, it has been a long process of connecting with sponsors and partners. The Festival was possible due to the support and collaboration of Swar Sangam, ITC Ltd.,Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan, the Austrian Embassy & Austrian Cultural Forum New Delhi, The Swedish Arts Grants Committee (Konstnärsnämnden), Alliance Francaise du Bengale, British Council, Screendance Festival( Sweden), t2 Telegraph, 91.9 Friends FM, Soni Power, Add Life Caring Minds, Rhythmosaic Dance Company, Buoyant Performing Arts Centre, Sparsh Studio for Performing Arts, The Calcutta School of Music aHotel Nest International, Chaitown Creatives and Berger Paints.

It is my intention to host this Festival as a biennial event and the next edition is due to take place in 2017. I hope the Dance Bridges Festival grows from this first edition to continue in building artistic bridges and cultural exchanges within creative communities across the world.