Tag Archive for: dance bridges festival

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.








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 dancebridgesfestival@gmail.com.
Vanessa Mirza (Director, Dance Bridges Festival)

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.