Delhi Dance Theater presents “Not Your Mothers” this Wednesday in the Capital

Leah Raphael Curtis and Emily Mcloughlin create dance dialogues across cultures. Dividing their time between New York and New Delhi, they are currently putting final touches to a new work they have co-directed and choreographed, “Not Your Mothers”, whose Delhi premiere is at LTG Auditorium this Wednesday. The show features an international cast of dancers and musicians and a range of forms.

Leah and Emily are co-founders, along with Lydia Walker, of the Delhi Dance Theater. Through their work, says Emily, they want to “encourage the idea that dance can be accessible outside the proscenium auditorium,” and that the physical environment can contribute to the creative expression as much as the dance, music, lighting and other conventional elements of a stage performance. That’s why last year, the company’s first work presented in India, “Beneath the Tamarind Tree”, was held at the Garden of Five Senses. Here, a stray dog joined them on stage and was welcome.

This time, however, they chose a proscenium setup, because the topic demands a more focused and intensive exchange with the audience. Having considered a larger space or a site-specific choreographic work, they zeroed in on LTG not just because of the technical requirements of the piece but also because it contains dance theatre and physical theatre “and for that you really need to be able to see the expressions of the performer,” says Leah.

Emily adds that the subject of this work, “the sincerity of it,” requires a setting where outside distractions are minimal.

The production has been timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, but it has its origins in the December 16 rape and murder that shook Delhi in the winter of 2012, when Leah and Emily were in the city. But at a larger level it deals with modernity and tradition and the position of Indian women today. The work is based on several months of research and interviews of women from different walks of life.

Leah who has a masters degree in Dance Anthropology and a B.A. in Contemporary Dance, has also studied Kuchipudi with Raja and Radha Reddy and Kathak with Chetna Jalan.

Both dancers find it exciting to witness India’s evolving Contemporary Dance scene – a process the West has already been through, they point out. “Delhi” in the company name signifies their sense of kinship with the city and their interest in cross-cultural work. With plans to bring work created in New York to New Delhi and that created in Delhi to New York, the intention, says Emily, is to “keep the conversation going.”

(“Not Your Mothers”, LTG Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, Mandi House, New Delhi, March 12, 7.30 p.m.)