In the last one week, dogs at Delhi’s plush Khan Market have found strange human beings crawling all over the market (at one point eight dogs surrounded one such person). The same group of people went to Central Park in Connaught Place, utilitarian Nehru Place, and boho-chic Hauz Khas Village. A group of 30 people, crawling, rolling, walking in strange ways, leading to raised eyebrows and evoking curiosity.
This project in movement installations was the build-up to the second edition of the IGNITE Festival of Contemporary Dance, being organized by the Gati Dance Forum in the Capital from 31 October-4 November. The festival is supported by the Royal Norwegian embassy, “Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities” (a 15-month programme series to celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Germany and India), Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, British Council, Pro Helvetia-Swiss Arts Council, Bharat Forge and others. This year’s highlight performances include MeiDhwani by the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, the opening performance choreographed by Jayachandran Palazhy (31 October, 8pm, at the Millennium Indraprastha Park, Sarai Kale Khan), Ravanama by Maya Krishna Rao (1 November, 8.30pm, at the LTG auditorium, Mandi House). There will also be a performance by Bharatanatyam-trained contemporary dancer Navtej Johar and German Ben J. Reipe on 2 November (8.30pm) at Shri Ram Centre. There’s also UnderContrAction by Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy, a movement installation that captures the need to build, demolish and reimagine the city (3 November, 6.45pm, Max Mueller Bhavan).
This year, the festival is focused on public spaces, and on engaging the people of the city with spaces ranging from malls and marketplaces to heritage sites and galleries. “By locating dance in the public realm, the festival aims to challenge its boundaries and redefine its relationship with the audience. The line-up includes outdoor and site-specific performances, flash mobs and mobile screenings of dance films in public spaces,” says Anusha Lall, director, Gati Dance Forum. “The extended festival format is designed to radically raise awareness about contemporary dance and the festival through direct and repeated interventions in the public sphere.”
The festival will also feature events that take audiences beyond the performance itself, deepening their experience and understanding of contemporary dance. Through performances, workshops, master classes, seminars, screenings and interactions, this festival will also showcase innovations in dance by choreographers from across India alongside parallel explorations that have been unfolding in other parts of the world.
The current format is a response to the last edition of the festival. This year, the idea was to widen its reach, and build dialogue with a wider audience. “We also worked on a project at Gati, on creating dialogue beyond our studio space called the Yellow Line Project. It brought together choreographers and film-makers to create work on city spaces,” says Lall. The artists worked at different public sites like Nehru Place, an unfinished hospital building in Mehrauli gaon (village), the dilapidated 1 MG Road (Gurgaon) structure, a rickshaw yard in Nizamuddin and the Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station and made dance videos featuring these places—these too are being screened as part of the festival, at sites like Central Park, Connaught Place. “This had multiple objectives: We were trying to see the city as a site where art can happen, and to reintegrate creativity with life,” says Lall.
As part of the main festival programme, each of the works has been created as a conversation with the “Other”, where a choreographer has been forced to come out of his box either in terms of working in a different content, aesthetic or theme.