The World Dance Alliance – India presents an international conference and some memorable performances this weekend.
There are many who would say that dance is something to be seen, savoured, experienced, rather than have its magic cloaked in scholarly verbalising. But then again, maybe there is something to be said for talking dance. Dancers certainly feel so. And this weekend the India chapter of the World Dance Alliance presents a mix of both — a conference and performances.
A week ago, six choreographers from India and elsewhere started working with dancers in a project in association with Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi. This Saturday evening, these six will share their experiences with “Dance Dialogues: An Evening with Choreographers,” at India International Centre, 7 p.m. , says Urmimala Sarkar, artiste and scholar — who, as Secretary of the India Chapter, besides Vice President, South Asia, of WDA – Asia Pacific — is in the thick of arrangements.
Sunday evening the venue shifts to the India Habitat Centre where, at 7 p.m., performers from South East Asia will present “Dear Friends” (Taipei National University of the Arts, Taiwan), “Khmeropedies II (Amrita Performing Arts, Cambodia), and Toccata (Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore).
Monday, also at the IHC, offers a rare opportunity to see the work of late Indian choreographer Chandralekha, whose group brings “Sharira: Fire/Desire”. With lights by Sadanand Menon, the production, say organisers, is to be presented exactly as it was under Chandralekha.
The performance line-up gives the impression that the emphasis of the event is on Contemporary Dance and choreography. However, says Urmimala, the choreographers who have been conducting the Choreography Lab are from classical fields too. One is Navtej Johar, trained in Bharatanatyam. Then there is Kathak dancer Nahid Siddiqui from Pakistan and classical Cambodian performers.
The participating performers, she notes, are trainee professionals. The educational value of the event is beyond doubt. But WDA is not only for dancers. “It is an umbrella organisation for people interested in dance,” says Urmimala pointing out, “There are a lot of youngsters who because of lack of support or infrastructure may not opt for dance. Or, even in later life, your engagement with dance may change. This gives you a lot of opportunity for networking. A lot of dance promoters are also part of the organisation.” She however adds that it is not an event management company.
Highly active in South East Asia, the organisation is less so in India. Eminent scholar and author Kapila Vatsyayan has been with the WDA since its inception. She is the India chapter president and Sunil Kothari the vice president. With units in West Bengal (the oldest in the country established in 2004), Maharashtra and other areas, Dance Alliance – India is gradually drawing a thriving community of practitioners, scholars, organisers and others related to dance.
Urmimala describes the case of a girl from West Bengal who wanted to study Contemporary Dance. “We could facilitate her getting into a Master's degree in Taiwan. This was not for research but to be an active dancer.
Finally, it seems, the organisation has the capacity to be what the chapter members make of it in each case.