ADR Summer 2017: Blog by Vanessa Maria Mirza

30 Aug

DB

“It was very exciting for our International Artistic & Programming Committee that a representative of Dance Bridges Festival, Kolkata, India was invited to attend American Dance Recon (ADR) 2017. We are a young and edgy festival of international dance focusing on building artistic and cultural exchanges between local and international artists, and have only just completed our second edition.

The conference and week-long event of ADR was only days before Dance Bridges Festival 2017 opened, but the opportunity to watch American dance performances, meet artists and explore new performance venues and arts spaces was too tempting to resist. As the Director of Dance Bridges Festival, I have received a few invitations to global dance platforms in recent years, but this was my first occasion to explore American dance more deeply with a range of different artists and genres within Philadelphia, New York City, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and other artist residency spaces, studios and venues throughout the Berkshires.

DVMy impressions of American Dance Recon now come as a rush of many different images and moments that deeply impacted me. It was a special experience to be guided through this variety of dance impulses along with a very eclectic group of international artists and programmers from Panama City, Shanghai, Tokyo, Lublin, Budapest, and Vancouver, as well our lovely American Dance Abroad hosts: Andrea Snyder from New York, NY and Carolelinda Dickey and Bonnie Gloris from Pittsburgh, PA.

I really didn’t expect such a wide programming spectrum, and I was grateful for the knowledge I gained through this multi-city exposure to art, culture and dance in America. We saw dance theatre, experimental, musical, contemporary hip hop/break dance, cabaret – some pieces that were pure dance-based choreography, others more theatrical, using text, song, many different props, contemporary ballet, and more.

I was struck by the individuality of artists from different cities and regions of America. I had a certain preconception about what present-day dance performance and choreography might be like in the U.S., and that was definitely expanded and changed. It left me feeling invigorated, and I found it thought-provoking, even if sometimes slightly offended. There are definitely artists and works that, as a programmer, I know would suit my region and Festival more than others. I very much appreciated that American Dance Abroad was not just providing a marketplace for Festivals and venues, but, in fact, something much deeper and richer.

The cultural and artistic appreciation of our journey feels absolutely invaluable, from learning about artist roots and dance company structures in Philadelphia from Joan Myers Brown and Lois Welk, to watching San Francisco-based choreographer Amy Seiwert present her first full-length ballet at the Joyce Theatre, to visiting Stephen Petronio’s beautiful new Crow’s Nest residency space, and seeing Adam Weinert’s JP_archive2interpretation of Ted Shawn’s solos in an abandoned high school in Hudson. Also, looking at blueprints and construction of The Lumberyard – a production-based residency program and space, watching some fabulous dance performances by choreographers like Doug Varone at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, looking through the archives and library with Norton Owen, and seeing young dancers perform on the beautiful open air stage, with the perfect frame of the Bershires all round. Finally, a visit to the MassMoCA museum and an American picnic and fireworks at Tanglewood.

I must thank our hosts once again for a wonderful time with artists of ranging maturity. Each performance was also at a different level of production, with some very young artists coupled with mature and inter-generational artists. I am left excited to build on my connections from this experience, and I certainly hope to strengthen ties with the American artists I have interacted with. Dance Bridges looks forward to developing relationships and being a channel to support liaisons with India.”

–VANESSA MARIA MIRZA, Founder-Director, DANCE BRIDGES FESTIVAL, Kolkata, India

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