सहकारिता : Artistic collaborations and partnerships

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Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. –  Helen Keller

How true! As artists, we often don’t realize the power of collaborations. Intrinsically we are social animals and hence the biggest commendation an artist, actually anyone, can receive is appreciation from the audience/peers/critics/seniors. While working with another artist a meeting of minds is essential. Firstly one needs to come up with a concept that works for both artists. If they are dancers, then dance styles need to be accommodated within the framework of ideas. With musicians, the canvas is larger. The next step is the all-important music for the collaboration. It has to fit the structure of the dance and is more challenging if recorded music is to be used.

And next comes the rehearsals, planning, costumes designing and venue. Individual commitments, lifestyles and pressures often pose challenges to coordinate practice and brainstorming sessions. Given populated cities, distances to be covered and demanding personal commitments, it is imperative that dancers embrace technology to bridge the gaps. More on technology and arts later. I have often noticed how a few dancers get together, hurriedly choreograph for a popular song and with scant practice put it up on stage. The results speak for themselves….

Kathak dancer Aditi Bhagwat and Flamenco performer Kunal Om presenting Flamenco Kathaa

Is just individually dancing two different styles bring forth a ‘fusion’? One would think that bringing different styles together would be a challenge given that the individual features and beauty of each form has to be preserved thus giving a distinct flavour in a potpourri! Individual styles need to fundamentally blend into a cohesive fabric and not stand out as patchwork. The challenge lies in showing the beauty of the individuality of each style but with an adhesive storyboard. For example, Mohiniyattam is a supine style and when combined with the sprightly Bharatanatyam it requires prudent choreography.

Challenges exist but so does opportunity. So here’s to more interaction, laughter, knowledge sharing and lifetime experiences!

Glimpse of Rina Mehta (Kathak) and Michelle Dorrance (Tap dance) collaboration

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