The Park’s The Other Festival - 2004 
    Music. Dance. Drama. Art. You.   

    The Chinmaya Heritage Centre, Chennai  
    # 2, 13th Avenue  
    Harrington Road, Chennai 600034  

    Nov 22 – Dec 1, 2004 
    Chennai, 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 experience. 

    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 

    Denise Fujiwara 
    Artistic Director 
    Fujiwara Dance Inventions 

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    What is The Other Festival?   
    • The Other Festival   • 2004