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The Great Indian Adventure (Part 1)
As I write this, 4 of my colleagues and a filmmaker, are making the journey to Mumbai. A journey that I made not 8 weeks ago. Am I jealous of the adventure that lies before them? Hell yeah I am!
In July last year our company was fortunate enough to be awarded funding as part of Arts Council England and the British Council’s Re:Imagine India programme. The aim of the project is to work with partner organisations in India and explore ways of exchanging what our companies do ahead of 2017 – a year that marks 100 years of Indian independence.
In November myself, 2Faced Dance’s Artistic Director, Tamsin, and our Producer, Phil, made an initial visit to India to meet with our partners and discuss how our ideas may work over there. It was a trip that I will never forget.
India is an incredible country. It was not somewhere I had visited before, even in those lost “gap years” that my generation have the luxury of taking, it was just not somewhere that was on my list. I had friends that had travelled the country and had returned with incredible stories so when this opportunity came up, I was very excited to take it.
This first visit saw us in India for 10 days. We travelled from London to Mumbai, Mumbai to Coimbatore, Coimbatore to Bangalore and then finally back to Mumbai before heading home. We packed light and had no real idea of what to expect.
I don’t think you can fully prepare for India. It’s a place you need to visit in order to get a real understanding of it. The heat, the smells, the incredible colours, the noise, the food, the contradictions and not to mention, the driving – just some of the things that make the country as extraordinary as it is.
Whilst we were there we met with some of the most inspiring people I have had the privilege to meet. Firstly there was Sanka Venkateswaran who lives with his wife and dog in a 1 room hut in the South Indian jungle. This incomparable duo are building a theatre in the hills of the jungle, from scratch, and it is pretty amazing. We were lucky enough to visit the site, listen to Sanka’s incredible story and discuss the current state of the dance scene in their area of India. Oh, and did I mention that, whilst building a theatre in the jungle, Sanka is also the Artistic Director of the International Theatre Festival of Kerala? How he remains so cool I will never know.
Our next meeting was with Jayachandran Palazhy and his team at Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts in Bangalore. Out of the Indian heat and following a rather hairy taxi ride, our meeting with Jay was calm and verging on spiritual. The centre he runs is extremely popular with the local community and whilst we sat in the cool of Jay’s office a queue of young children formed outside waiting for their next class to begin.
Jay emanated a controlled and wise vibe. He could hold the room without needing to say very much at all. It was clear to see he is a much respected man. As so he should be. I won’t go into his full biography here but it is worth checking on the centre’s website for more info (see link below).
Our discussions with the Attikkalari team on that day formed the shape of 5 of the days that the team will be spending with them on this current trip. A time of workshops, networking, mentoring and much more besides.
Following on from Bangalore we then met with Sumeet Nagdev and his team in Mumbai. Sumeet’s studios were full of wit and charm and the man himself was similarly passionate and full of energy.
In India, Sumeet is a bit of a TV celebrity. He sits on the panel for India’s answer to So You Think You Can Dance? and was quick to assure us he was not the ‘nasty’ one.
Nothing was out of the question when it came to this man and his team and they couldn’t do more to help us and try to make this project come to life and have a real impact. I know, whilst the company visit Mumbai this week, they will be made supremely welcome and I am already excited to hear the results of their trip.
So, this time around, Tamsin and Phil are accompanied by two of our company’s dancers – Chris Knight and Luke Rigg – and the inspirational filmmaker / photographer, Luke Evans. This visit will see the 5 of them spending time in both Mumbai and Bangalore to work on and document the project that we are looking at taking to India, and indeed bringing over to the UK in 2017.
For now, I have said enough, but watch this space as there will be plenty more to come soon…
By Lisa Sullivan,
Company and Marketing Manager, 2Faced Dance
International Theatre Festival of Kerala: www.theatrefestivalkerala.com
Attikkalari Centre for Movement Arts: www.attakkalari.org
Sumeet Nagdev Dance Arts: www.snda.in
Re:Imagine India Fund: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/apply-funding/funding-programmes/reimagine-india/