Monday, December 31, 2007

First Day of Rehearsals

Workshop Day 2

I took the dancers through a ballet class today. This was a great experience for them since ballet classes are very infrequent here. The students did receive prior exposure to ballet from other visiting teachers and from Miyako Nitadori when she visited Chennai a year ago along with DTSB&Co dancer Leonardo Torres. The dancers worked really hard and seem to have gained more awareness of using their feet and legs in a specific way.

The first rehearsal yesterday also went well. A lot of material was generated both by me and the dancers...the new work is developing into a structure of large group, duet, trio, and quarter sections. The process of creating a new work is just so fascinating to watch...I create in a way that is very different from the ways dances are created in hip-hop, latin, and lyrical dance forms..this is another great experience for the dancers in addition to the technical training.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Classical Dance and Ancient Art

Yesterday we were invited to Bharatha Kalanjali Bharathanatyam. I taught a modern dance class and the students and professional dancers demonstrated their beautiful class warm up. Kelly and I tried a few steps of classical Indian dance as well. What a beautiful dance form! Their guru or teacher is Mr. V.P. Dhananjeyan; he is very talented and has a wonderful spirit. In the afternoon we continued working with John Britto's Company. They are so motivated to dance! Today Kelly and I hopped in a rickshaw and visited the National Gallery in Chennai; a beautiful bronze and stone carving collection. We also wandered the colorful streets near the Kapaleeshwarar Temple. It is believed that Parvati worshipped Shiva in the form of a peacock at this spot. This area is full of religious pilgrims. It was also the first area in the city where we met an American couple, here for the Music Festival.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Our First Days in Chennai

We made it to Chennai!!

John Britto's dancers greeted us at the Chennai airport around 1am and performed a traditional welcoming ceremony...including flowers, incense, prayer, and a traditional indian was quite the treat after such a long journey!

We settled into our hotel and finally made it to bed around 2am. Our first day included a trip to the American Consulate, with John Britto, to meet with Ragini Gupta, Consul of Cultural Affairs. This was the first face to face meeting with Dana, John, and Ragini since prior communication had only been through phone and email! After going through the schedule and discussing the workshop, performances, etc., we drove to see the auditorium where the concerts will be held when the DTSB&Co Dancers arrive in January. Lastly, we met with John Britto's Dance Company at his studio/school. The dancers gave us a great demonstration of the different forms of dance they train in...jazz, hip-hop, flamenco, salsa, and classical indian dance are just a few of those forms. We are really looking forward to starting the workshop tomorrow...but for now, it is time to get some rest and recoup from jet lag!!

Workshop Day 1
Today is our first day working with John Britto's Dance company...they are such a wondeful group of dancers! Everyone is very excited to have us here...the dancers are very enthusiatic and eager to learn. The general schedule runs as a 2 hour monring class followed by a lunch break and then a 3 hour rehearsal. Dana is setting a new work on the group which will premiere in the January concert. Technical training in western dance forms has not been very popular in Chennai until almost 10 years ago when John created his studio. The studio has given John and his dancers the opporunity to learn different dance techniques by inviting artists from other countries to come and teach. The company not only provides John and his dancers a way to enjoy dance as a means of art and personal expression...but for many of his dancers it provides them with a full-time career! In addition to performing and touring, company members teach younger dance students who come to take classes after school. This reflects similarly on American culture and dance training.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's almost time!

It is 11:01 PM and I am just getting in from rehearsal. There is so
much to do before I leave to India on Monday! I am so excited to
learn about this unique culture. My itinerary is jam packed with
teaching, meeting artists and attending shows during the Festival of
Dance in Chennai.

Our dancer Kelly will be traveling with me on the 24th of December to
Frankfurt and then to Chennai. We will make sure to take photos of
our journey and keep you updated everyday.

Stand by!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On the road again

Dana Tai Soon Burgess will soon be blogging from India during his four week residency in Chennai, India. He will be teaching at various dance studios and colleges, conducting workshops and choreographing. His dancers will join him January 8, 2008 for a company performance on January 12.

Please check back after December 26, 2007 to read about his adventures.