Taking a step ahead from two decades of dance experimentation by Sapphire working to develop an organic, radical, dynamic and alternative idiom of movement in Eastern India, Sapphire’s newest dance academy will combine the best of Sapphire’s signature style of movement and training and International curriculum and teaching.
Sudarshan Chakraborty, the Artistic Director of Sapphire Creation in a chat shared a few details about the kind of work he does.
He said that Sapphire’s long and pioneering experience of training and performance for the last 28 years across more than 20 countries along with a network of International choreographers and teachers, who believe in Sapphire’s vision for dance in India, bring a substantial edge over other dance academies in the region. The Academy is divided into Playgroup, Junior, Senior Certificate and Internship Programs.
INTERFACE, the International Festival of Alternative and Contemporary Expressions, the first-ever international arts festival of Eastern India is only the third in the country. The arts are variously shaped to fit into each other to create a meaningful cumulative experience.
Sapphire uniquely attempts to create a common yet non-mainstream platform where the arts can interact and bring to us expressions of another kind. Every two years, Sapphire throws open to the art lovers of eastern India and Kolkata in particular, this movement to bring home its experimentation that recreates every human experience in myriads of art forms all over the world. Interestingly INTERFACE is Eastern India’s first and only international platform for contemporary expressions in the alternative arts. A festival is a major event in the cultural calendar of Kolkata covering various artistic disciplines focusing dance and a wide variety of events including outdoor events, seminars and workshops. The arts for a period of five odd days come alive to a frenzied process of exchange, learning and interaction between forms, genres, people and cultures. In instant sensibilities and sensitivities are united, the world is bonded in art and in the love of it. They have hosted renowned artists from Ukraine, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Poland, Malaysia, Singapore, Israel and Taiwan among others.
In their Quarterly Art Series, Sudarshan Chakravorty’s dance academy marked their 28th anniversary by starting a month-long virtual dance series titled Dance vivid — Dancing Vividly in Covid Times – the first episode of which was streamed live on August 9 comprising four short dance pieces. The dance pieces were performed by the artistes associated with Sudarshan’s dance academy. The first performance of the online dance show was Catastrophe that showcased how an unforeseen disaster strikes the human race and the survivors fail to comprehend the root of this collapse and wonder whether it was there around or has been nurtured inside them for ages. The question remains unanswered while human life is kept at stake waiting to be salvaged. Up next was the piece Losing Touch Gaining Time helmed by senior performer and associate of Sudarshan, Paramita Saha. This was followed by Pendulum and Déjà vu.
Talking about this initiative, Sudarshan said, “The show was streamed live but treated as a physical performance where all the dancers maintained social distancing and followed all norms of safety. Circumstances have changed but dance hasn’t. We have danced on stage, danced on the streets, danced in cafes, bookstores, galleries and even boardrooms. But now, given the present situation, we have moved our performances completely online.” We had a successful DANCE VIVID: Monthly ‘The Alien Flower’ was a part of the Dance Series during Covid by Sapphire Kolkata. It was a 40-minute ballet first full-length ballet on same-gender love based on eight English poems by Sanjay Vasa and Canada based Rakesh Ratti. “Stream of Life” celebrated pulsating stream of human existence finally achieving eternity through God’s grace. It is based on six poems from Tagore’s Geetanjali set to South American music. Performed In Kolkata(India).
‘Post Mortem’ was a metaphorical dissection of time, space and individual in the context of global consumerism set to beat by Trilok Gurtu and Samul Nori. Performed in Kolkata(India), New Delhi (India), Goa (India), Chennai(India), Mumbai (India)
‘Indian Erotica -Vedas to the Millennium’ was a ballet tracing the changing power equations between man and woman from the Vedic age to the dawning millennium, assuming that the aspects of this vital relationship reveal the socio-cultural, economical and educational situation of a particular age. The ballet scrutinized Indian history, religion, mythology, literature and sociology, to unearth evidence for this innovative notion and presented it through a multimedia production of dance, music and cinema. It was showcased in Kolkata (India), Hyderabad(India), Bangkok (Thailand), Melbourne(Australia).
‘Walls’ was a site-specific performance based on an intrinsic narrative of compulsion, repulsion, attraction and deviation using the concept of contact-resistance and the wall as prop, theme and support.
‘Positive Lives’ was a dance-visual montage presentation that told the story of people living with HIV. The project has been organized in collaboration with Sparsha, a Kolkata-based NGO working with HIV Positive people. The visual montage was inspired by real-life stories, anecdotes and case histories. The project was a tribute to those who have dared to say YES! to life. It was performed all around the globe.
‘Souls in Trazit’ was presented by lead dancers of Sapphire, Dibyendu Nath and Paramita Saha. The piece was developed out of Tranz, a choreolab organized by Anita Ratnam in Chennai, where this duet improvisatory piece was closely mentored by Toronto-based Hari Krishnan and UK-based Chitra Sundaram. The piece explored in a non-linear perspective the flux of human relationships. Lights and costume designed under the advice of the celebrated Mithran Devanesan and Canada-based Rex.
‘Dance Vivid’ is India’s first digital dance concert live-streamed directly from the space where performers dances to no pre-recorded content.
“We have pledged to create a new performance every month. In this creation and performance will go hand in hand to ensure sustenance of the art and artists by making the series a ticketed show…Till March 2021 in 8 editions we create nearly 25 short works”, said Sudarshan.
Sapphire in its 28th year in 2020 continues to inspire and lead the contemporary dance movement in Kolkata, continuing to surpass the limits of the body and the imagination, motivating those who started to never give up dance.
“Circumstances have changed, but dance hasn’t. We have danced on stage, danced on the streets, danced in cafes, bookstores, galleries, boardrooms. Now we will dance online. You will view us in a box. But in your mind’s imagination, our energy and spirit will create a world of movement, beauty, creativity and meaning for you. We will pervade borders with dance be it physical or digital. We will DanceVivid. Vivid is vivacious, alive and pulsating. This is the new now” was pronounced by the Artistic Director of Sapphire.
‘Directions’ induced, Pause. Move. Slow down. Like traffic lights at the signal, our lives are at the mercy of pause and play buttons of disease, lockdowns and uncertainties. Three gusts of abstract pulsating energy transmit and translocate. They are gentle streams sometimes, gushing rivers at others. They dart around space, finding direction, travelling, transmitting, locomoting. They converge and diverge, at best they pulse. The hearts beat. Life continues.
‘Lead Kindly Light’ spoke of darkness which heralds an indeterminate future. Darkness is thick and dense engulfing thought and hope. What do we believe in, in these unreal times! How should we wait for tomorrow! Who will lead us into a future that is kind and fulfilling? From ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to light, lead us a kindly beacon of promise! The inner light, the light of the spirit lead us!, were the queries.
Choreography and Performance were by Bijoy Sharma.
‘Hand Stories’ commented on lip reading, watching and listening at the same time. We read body language, facial expression and spoken words together. But our faces are masked now, Intentions too. Our lips do not move. Expressions remain hidden. The eyes twinkle in despair. Now it is left to the body to do the talking and hands to hold gestures and signs. Metaphors of context, meaning, possibility. We signal in little zoom windows muted by others, often we mute ourselves. Emoticons struggle to express tiny nuances in feeling and tone. What is a language then? How do we speak! This was a commentary on the present times. Choreography and Performance by Sudarshan Chakravorty and Ankita Duttagupta.
Some interesting dance pictures were taken in the streets of Kolkata just before the lockdown on 17th march with dancers mingling with the common people and posing in front of heritage buildings. This was to express that there are dance and rhythm in every common man, we need to acknowledge it… and heritage and modernity can co-exist as we need to have a tolerant society and accept the coexistence of tradition and modernity without counter or conflict.