Spaces for Practice
 |  #TakeTheCityKolkata : Pickle Factory Season 3
10th Jan – 10th Feb 2023

A vital need in the dance sector in India is to have safe spaces and intensive time to serve  and nurture artists, their practice and process. This is a very different space from that of  actual performance. It is a space for thinking through questions, developing critical and  choreographic practice on one’s own terms, and imagining, experiencing and trying new  ways of doing, making and thinking movement. It is a laboratory space for proposing and  carrying out experiments, free from the pressures of creating finished pieces to present  to an audience. These opportunities for dancers, we find, are few and far between in India,  and almost completely absent in my part of the country, even though cities like Calcutta  are home to large numbers of dance and movement artists. In fact, over the last couple of  years I have been asked – especially by early to mid career dancers who have reached a  level of proficiency and reputation, but are looking to challenge themselves and their  practice in fresh ways – ‘where do we go next to keep growing?’ This speaks to my own  experience over the last decade. Feeling the need to refresh and challenge myself as a  performance maker and performer, I stepped out of my Calcutta domain in 2014 to work  with Indian and international contemporary choreographers and directors. This opened up, questioned, and refashioned my ways of approaching, conceiving and presenting  performance, as well as sowed very different questions and perspectives that continue to  challenge and inspire me. Such experiences simultaneously validate, re-align, and enrich our individual journeys as artists, and are most valuable at a cusp stage in our careers  when we require fresh and untried avenues to explore and discover. 

The Spaces for Practice programme in January 2023 addresses this need. The programme  will be in partnership with Pickle Factory Dance Foundation, and sit within the larger  framework of Pickle Factory Season 3 – #TakeTheCityKolkata. Over the month, four very  different artists from across India will mentor and facilitate four different workshop /  residency experiences re-looking at choreographic practice, creative methodology,  spatial and temporal relationships, and knowledge and interpretation of the body. These  are aimed at different levels and backgrounds of participants, focussing on early and mid career practitioners from east and north-east India, which has a large and diverse  performance culture but very little in terms of such opportunities. Participants will be  selected through either invitation or open call, considering their ability to both contribute to the experience and be enriched by it. The intention, structure, process and duration of  each experience varies, in keeping with a commitment to foregrounding the plurality of  voices and possibilities that the dance world offers and actively creates. The common  motivation, though, is to provide thought-provoking and practice-based inspiration and  challenges to young dance artists from the region asking critical questions of themselves,  their practice, and their relationships to their art and societies. 

10 Jan – 10 Feb ‘23 | Re-imagining of ‘Terms and Conditions Apply’

The workshop is designed to build and hone young performers in the city through intensive choreographic rehearsal with movement practitioner – Aseng Borang (Roing, Delhi), who will work on creating, developing and finally performing her piece, ‘Terms and Conditions Apply’ over a period of one month.

‘Terms and Conditions Apply’ is a formulation of various games. An isolated space is created and given rules, terms and conditions which slowly develops into a ‘culture’. The performing bodies embody as well as resist this codified culture that slowly forms. Viewers are invited into this space too, via a contract. What happens when an opposing and an obeying body meet in the same space? Do the threads come undone?

Be a fly on the wall and take a peek at the process

13-17 Jan ‘23 | Re-imagining of ‘Rasa-Bala-Buddhi’

Piyal Bhattacharya will re-imagine certain scenes from the production, Rasa-bala-buddhi, with a group of dancers, musicians, vocalists, instrumentalists and actors. Rasa-bala-buddhi, is a playful yet poignant narrative of yearning, strength and devotion – a re-imagining of a play commonly performed in Kathakali. Piyal’s version of the play also foregrounds contemporary issues of social hierarchies and brings in the flavours of local performance forms and languages.

The workshop will open up ways of approaching and interpreting ancient and so-called codified texts such as the Nāṭya Śāstra, which are often looked at as limiting dogma rather than open-ended and often abstract concepts to critically analyse, interpret and challenge. Piyal Bhattacharya’s knowledge, experience and practice is rooted in deep learning and coupled with a contemporary curiosity, which allows a range of ideas, debates, arguments and counter-arguments to flow easily and safely. Participants in this workshop will gain a practical experience of his methodology of dance and music and find fresh ways of approaching and understanding their own practice. Equally, they will also find a space where they may question and disagree with traditional systems of knowledge in an informed and analytical manner. 

Be a fly on the wall and take a peek at the process

20-28 Jan ‘23 | New Clearage

Taking the form of a process-based engagement, NEW CLEARAGE is a re-adaptation of The Jumping Project (2015) where in the space of a square pit, a group of ten people negotiate the force of gravity within their bodies. They stand side-by-side, pushing away from the ground, reaching for a space and time that is suspended. (View the performance here). Set in a tram depot in Kolkata, NEW CLEARAGE brings to life some of the structures from this work to engage in a conversation with the geography and materiality of the space and what it means to be present in relation to a particular place and group of people.
 
The two week process will include studying the site of the tram depot in detail, exploring both a personal sense of how we locate ourselves in space as well as a collective sense of the history of the location and its relationship to the city. The site studies will run parallel to intensive work in the studio applying somatic techniques to encourage deep and sensitive listening to spaces within and outside the body. Through this, participants will learn and experience what it takes and means to fully inhabit their own bodies, space and time as performers. 

Be a fly on the wall and take a peek at the process

Explorations through Sasha Waltz’s In C

“The score of »In C« consists of fifty-three musical phrases and reads like stage directions for musicians. The thought of translating these detailed instructions into dance through a choreographic exploration of the music appealed to me. The result is an experimental system of fifty-three choreographic figures for a structured improvisation with clear rules and laws. It gives freedom to the individual dancer within the ensemble: It is a piece about being part of a group as an individual rather than being an individual within a group.”
 
Diving into the choreographic process of  »In C«, dancers will learn tools for playing with composition and rhythm in a dialogue between dance, music and space. You will explore a series of tasks that call for collective and individual choices and perform a dynamic range of movements within an improvised structure that gives power to the ensemble/ freedom to the individual at every moment. This workshop is underpinned by two guiding questions 
“How can you make a difference with your own choice?” 
“How do you find pleasure in dance encounters?” 
Joshua will filter his learning and teaching of the piece through the lens of an Indian context. This approach will open up ideas and conversations about the politics and practice of intercultural exchanges and possible ways of making such endeavours more equal and equitable. 

As a movement practitioner, Aseng Borang is attracted towards the vastness of the meanings/interpretations that our physical body/bodies produce in a space. She attempts to challenge those meanings but sometimes adheres to the same. More recently, she has been investigating the body in the realm of resistance, time, archives, proximity and anarchy. Aseng has a Master’s degree in Performance Practice (Dance) from Ambedkar University Delhi. She is from Roing, Arunachal Pradesh where she recently started STUDIO YINGKO and, shuttles between her hometown and New Delhi. Rock climbing, Pole dancing, Aerial hoop, Yoga, Writing and Shaolin Kungfu are some of the others things she likes to dabble on.

Piyal Bhattacharya  has been engrossed in the research and practical reconstruction of the complete performance system and perspective of Natyashastra for the past 20 years of his life. He completed 6 years diploma course Kathakali Vesham (Kathakali acting) from Kerala Kalamandalam under the supervision of Kalamandalam Balasubramanyan, 2004. He got awarded MA Vellodi Silver Medal from Kerala Kalamandalam, 1989-99 and also got Kavalappara Narayanan Nair award from Kerala Kalamandalam, 2002-03.  It is his sole endeavour to uphold this ancient tradition of performance, as a whole, as have been envisioned by him under the name of “MARGA NATYA”. Through this work he sincerely wishes to create a dialogue with the contemporary societal concerns, and create a bridge in between. His research has been constant research to discover the theatrical language of Indian tradition. This research is a sincere effort to bring about the practice of Nritta, Geet and Abhinaya based on Bharata’s system of performance as stated in Natyashastra.” MARGA NATYA” is a researched and reconstructed way of presenting the ‘Natya’ or theatrical system of performance, mentioned in Natyashastra.

Preethi Athreya trained in classical Indian dance and has a postgraduate degree in Dance Studies (Laban Centre, London, 2001). Keenly conscious of her need to be defined not as the exotic other, she chose to continue her journey in her native Chennai, with a strong commitment to constantly redefine the Indian body. Preethi has been engaged in creating a personal movement language that reflects her relationship with her context, being at the same time open to new ways in how we may relate to the body. She has choreographed, performed, and produced 13 collaborative works since 2003, the latest being And Indeed There Will Be Time… (2020) and BIRD (2021).

A traveler between worlds and mediums, Joshua transforms his experiences into artistic expressions through dance, music, photography, and visual art. His creative practice and research involves artistic collaborations across various mediums, exploring themes of identity and ‘folk’ traditions. He is a co-founding member of the 206 Dance Collective and engages with the global dance community through teaching, performances, and podcasting. He is currently touring and performing in the works of Preethi Athreya, Ainesh Madan, Surjit Nongmeikapam, Perch Theatre Collective and 206 Dance Collective.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

Astrid Wege
Chandan A. N.
John Xaviers
Karsten Liske
Kritika Dey
P. K. Mitra
Rajanvir Kapur
Sasha Waltz and Guests
Sharmistha Sarker
Tanusree Shankar
Vinita Saraf

 CREDITS

Spaces for Practice Team
Curator: Vikram Iyengar
Month Coordinator: Jayati Chakraborty

Workshop Coordinators
Srijaa Kundu
Sangram Mukhopadhyay
Srijaini Ghosh
Monami Nandi

Technical Providers
Construction: Pranab Mazumdar (Tinka da)

Programme Partners
Goethe Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata
India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore
American Center, Kolkata

Associate and Venue Partners
Ek Tara
Myi Studio
West Bengal Transport Corporation Limited

Pickle Factory Dance Foundation, Calcutta is a not-for-profit
company registered under Section 8 of The Companies Act, 2013.
The company was incorporated on 12 July 2017.

© All images and text are copyright of Pickle Factory except where otherwise specified.
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