Dancers across the globe unite and inspire millions to look within in this time of crisis
On World Dance Day on April 29, Sudarshan Chakravorty of Sapphire Dance Academy reached out to artistes, collaborators, choreographers and teachers across the world with whom he has had a connection over the years in various capacities and initiatives, for their messages of hope during this pandemic. “Dance has always been threatened as performing bodies in public spaces can’t be political while performing art is dependent on the physical existence of the performing body and hence the most fragile of all arts. There has to be a shared responsibility, where we need consolidation as a community, as a fraternity to engage, enhance, invoke and inspire each other without barriers of form, gharana, ownership or region. We as dancers are looking to reinvent ourselves not just to sustain but we are trying to find new connections with ourselves and the community. Let us fight this out together and not in isolation.”
1. Astad Deboo
I am privileged in terms of education, social standing, resources and opportunities. But when I find my associates, ranging from drummers in Manipur to the street children in Delhi, and hearing-impaired students in Mumbai, I know worrying is not enough. If you see someone in need, reach out, help them so that when this is over, we will be able to look into the eyes of the most important person in our lives without looking away.
2. Geeta Chandran
Artistic director, Natya Vriksha
I know artistes are getting disillusioned with cancellations of programmes due to the lockdown. But this is a time of journey, of looking inwards. We have always faced challenges and it’s up to us to rise as a community and make art more relevant than ever. This is only a transition time and people will eventually realise the true value of the arts.
3. Daksha Sheth
Dancer, founder/director, Daksha Sheth Dance Company
As a dance community, our physical, economic and mental well-being are in crisis. This situation has forced us to think in a different way. Can we find movement in stillness? Can we discover power in silence? Can we create solidarity in isolation? Can we solve economic issues by uniting together? Can we be grateful for each day that we are alive and virus-free? My heartiest good wishes to you all for keeping healthy and staying alive.
4. Padmini Chettur
What do we do with the instrument for dance, the body, when we are left feeling redundant? Choreographer Chandralekha often said to the establishment that ‘I exist despite you’. While countries in Europe ensure that their artistes survive, here we are unemployed, unsalaried. I find myself secure in this body that I have nurtured. Recover from injuries, build strength, help your mother make meals, and know that that the new meaning of dance will emerge from us all.
5. Terence Lewis
Dance choreographer and founder, The Terence Lewis Contemporary Dance Company
The art and dance industry will be impacted the most! I’ve always believed that adversity can be the bedrock of opportunity. It’s a hard reality. I’ve accepted it, realised that I will have to align myself to the new world order, adapt to the change, give and take support of the community and move forward knowing that ‘this too shall pass’.
6. Joseph Gonzales
Head of Academic Studies/MFA Dance Program Leader, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts
This time is unprecedented when we are all locked down. Many of us who thought of time, space, energy, stage and performance, are unable to do what we are accustomed to. It’s a time to stay connected in different ways. Use online platforms to dance together, in isolation but feel what it is like to participate in a class given by someone thousands of miles away.
7. Aditi Mangal Das
Founder, Drishtikon Dance Foundation
My first impulse when this lockdown happened was to reach out, to touch somebody with my heart. So I made some short videos at home titled From my Home to Yours as an initiative. I was hoping that somewhere some dancer across this globe within the confines of his/her home will be touched by it. Find the expansion of your dance within your home, within your body!
8. Jonathan Hollander
Founder/director, Battery Dance Company
Normally dancers thrive on collaborations, teamwork and engagement and now we are forced to work from home and in isolation. In a way it’s good as we now can think of ourselves, our core, and work on our own technique, our strength, our state of mind. I launched Battery Dance TV on March 27 and projected more than 150 different programmes ranging from dance training for non-dancers, to interviews with veterans.
9. Ambrose Laudai
Italy has been shut down and I have been in isolation and it’s a terrible moment for me to see all my friends and relatives suffering. The artistic situation in Italy is even worse than the pandemic as politics has killed the propagation and promotion of art. Now all the theatres, dance companies and schools are closed, which means there is no earning for us. We hope for the situation to improve but not hopeful for the artistes in Italy.
10. Roger Sinha
Founder director and choreographer, Sinha Danse, Canada
Writers write, painters paint, dancers dance. That’s what I am going to be doing now. I will add every day and I am going to remember it will be a solo and is going to be seen in a theatre, which will be performed before real eyes, being watched by many of them, in their seats, in a theatre. My home has become my theatre, my bedroom my green room and I move, keep moving and dance!
11. Ananda Shankar Jayant
Dancer, founder-director, Shankarananda Kalakshetra, Hyderabad
We as dancers know that there is no single day for dancing but every day is a day to dance but now we are not able to dance so much because of the pandemic. But we can use this time for introspection, for recreating and research for what we want to do and relearning and reworking our bodies, mind and spirit to be the best dancer we can ever be.
12. Jacek Luminski
Choreographer, head of dept, Academy of Theatre, Katowice
Dance is something natural to humans that connects us between the past and present and I feel that everywhere there is this movement and so I have no choice but to move and life will move on.
13. Michel Casanovas
Dancer, practitioner of Feldenkrais Method
I have been suddenly caged as I was travelling for the past 14 years and tried to experience and explore different spaces, inside and outside. This pandemic has given me an opportunity to look into my inner motivation, re-examine myself when I try to engage in a work as to whether it’s coming from my inner calling.
14. Danny Tan
Choreographer and artistic director, Odyssey Dance Theatre Ltd, Singapore
Dance, like any other art form, helps to ‘sustain, transform and innovate’ lives. More particularly during a crisis, when the whole world has paused, it gives us the much-needed space to contemplate on our passion for dance and the values of dance. It is my utmost appeal to all dancing friends, to re-envisage dance in this ‘new normal’ time of our lives. Keep safe and keep dancing strong!