It will be the London-based Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company’s first-ever company performance in India. Jeyasingh, described in the British media as “one of the most gifted choreographers living and working in Britain”, will present a 70-minute double bill bringing together music by the beatboxer Shlomo, a remixed version of Steve Reich’s 1966 classic Come Out, and the Indian soprano Patricia Rozario.
The first edition of Ignite: The Gati Contemporary Dance Festival has several other such must-watches. The four-day festival, starting on 10 November, will provide a platform for showcasing high-quality contemporary dance from India and abroad at prominent venues across the Capital, such as Kamani, Shri Ram Centre, Max Mueller Bhavan and the British Council. The underlying theme for the first year is the Indian dance idiom, but practitioners don’t necessarily have to be based in India.
Established as well as emerging dancers will share a platform at ‘Ignite’.
The programme includes performances, master classes, workshops, dance film screenings and exhibitions. Apart from Jeyasingh, the line-up of virtuosos includes Sudesh Adhana (Norway), Aditi Mangaldas, Navtej Singh Johar and the Padmini Chettur Dance Company from India.
Ignite aims to provide a platform to emerging dancers as well, so performers such as The Post Natyam Collective (US, Germany, India), Mehneer Sudan from Mumbai and the very young Veena Basavarajaiah, 27, from Bangalore will also perform. Basavarajaiah will present a futuristic piece called Maya: Beyond the Illusion of Perception (20 minutes), which was conceived during a dance residency organized by Gati in 2009.
Anusha Lall, co-founder, Gati, explains: “We’ve been organizing dance training and research workshops as well as encouraging new choreography through Gati. But we realized that all of this will bear no fruition if there aren’t platforms to showcase contemporary dance.”
The festival has been envisaged to give Indian contemporary
dance public visibility, showcase creativity and innovation, and
support the development of vibrant, new artistic work by launching a
pan-Indian network of dance organizations. The principal sponsors for Ignite are Max Mueller Bhavan, the Norwegian embassy and the Asia-Europe Foundation.
The idea of the workshops and seminars at the festival is to discuss Indian contemporary dance. Lall believes that while other forms of artistic expression already exist, dance has, until now, enjoyed very limited visibility in India. “It’s time for path-breaking, icon-shattering, ground-shaking expressions to be brought out to the public,” she says.
Indian contemporary dance is at an exciting juncture today, encompassing daring innovation on the one hand and the quiet strength of tradition on the other. This makes it a powerful and evocative symbol of our evolving identity as a modern nation. It also demonstrates the vitality of traditional Indian dance forms that continue to inspire creative minds across the world.
Ignite: the Gati Contemporary Dance Festival will be held at various venues across New Delhi from 10-13 November. For details, log on to www.gatidance.com.