India, is the hotbed of dance and music in the month of December. There
is a huge festival of carnatic music and classical dance, and then, there
is THE OTHER FESTIVAL which programs new dance, theatre, film and
visual art. I had the privilege of performing “Sumida River” and teaching
a 10-day workshop for THE OTHER FESTIVAL. It was a fabulous experience.
The students, all classical Bharatanatyam dancers, had no idea of what
a workshop in Improvisation and Butoh-based dance might be, but signed
up out of a crazy sense of adventure. The work required them to release
their technical training and many of their notions abut performance and
improvisation while I introduced them to other paradigms of post-modern
American based improvisation and basic Japanese Butoh based dance.
At times they were perplexed but
maintained faith that there was method in my madness. I learned as much
from the students as they learned from me. The workshop culminated in the
creation and performance of a 15-minute dance. It was very well received
and the audience discussion that followed led to fascinating questions
and perceptive observations from all involved that taught me even more
about our experience.
“Sumida River” was the first ever
Butoh performance in Chennai. The audience received it effusively and most
of them stayed for a discussion after the show. It was gratifying to dance
for such a cultured audience.
THE OTHER FESTIVAL featured artists
from London, New York, Berlin, Israel, France and India. Each night we
saw work that challenged the way we look at art and caused latent ethnocentricities
to be put into high relief. This has been a huge and inspiring learning
India itself was an eye opener.
It is chaotic, beautiful, refined, squalid, heartbreaking and joyful all
at the same time. The traffic alone – masses of merging bikes, motorcycles,
buses, carts, cows and cars is enough to put one into culture shock.
Given the magnitude of the tsunami
disaster, my life seems small indeed. It is a shocking reminder of the
impermanence of all things. However back in Toronto we push on…
My very best wishes to you and
yours in 2005
Fujiwara Dance Inventions