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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)

PLAY OF EMOTIONS

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.

VISUAL AND AURAL DELIGHTS

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.

BRIDGING GAPS

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.

AN INTIMATE CLOSURE

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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.