Battery Dance’s new Powerhouse!by Denver Fernandes January 15 2018, 3:00 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 34 secs
Battery Dance is a company dedicated to artistic excellence and social relevance by creating vibrant new works, performing on the world’s stages, presenting dance in public spaces, serving the field of dance and teaching people of all ages. The world-renowned team is currently making their India tour and I was delighted to attend one of their shows right here in Mumbai. This time around the group presented a powerful and graceful bit- ‘Shakti: A Return to the Source’, for the first time in India.
Jonathan Hollander founded Battery Dance in the year1976 and he is a one of the spearheads in international cultural exchange as well as social activism. During the inauguration he expressed how happy and fortunate he was to come back to India after so many years. Distinguished Bharatanatyam dancer Unnath H.R accompanied the highly talented ballet, urban dance artists and choreographers, Sean Scantlebury, Robin Cantrell, Mira Cook, Clement Mensah and Bethany Mitchell for the evening. Moreover Barry Steele a well-known production designer for operas and many music productions managed the lighting and scenic designs for the show.
The first performance of the evening was titled ‘Observatory’ and it was a blast. The dance was beautifully choreographed with gravity defying moves. I couldn’t help but hold my breath more often than not.
The second performance was ‘Kauthavam’ by Unnath Hassan Rathnaraju. Kauthavam is a blend of poetry and music in a ritualized form. His composition depicts the Hindu God Subramanya (Son of Shiva and Parvati), the lord of all snakes. The native element of Bharatanatyam harkens back to the roots of South Indian culture.
‘Terra and Astra’, a two-part work was the third performance. This work dealt with, man-woman relationship to the celestial orbiting of planets in the skies. This work is slow and graceful expressing the push and pull of a relationship.
Finally the big guns were out with Shakti. The group donned the stage in a human chain, connecting each other. The work evokes the sentiment of Bhakti (devotional love for goddess). The inspiration behind the work is derived from Indian classical music and dance forms. Both music and the dance amalgamated seamlessly into one spectacular piece of art. Unnath previously spent 4 weeks with the Company in 2015 and through his collaboration with Battery’s Western trained dancers; they came up with this unique and symbolic depiction of Goddess- Durga. It’s soulful music and excellent choreography is a complete show stealer.
The fusion of Indian and Western culture and dance forms is a wondrous thing propounded by Battery Dance. The company has travelled all across the world presenting their work in festivals and major theatres throughout 6 continents.
With the help of the Edgard D. Kagan of the U.S. Consul General Mumbai and sponsorship from SBI, Air India and others, we were fortunate to witness this endeavor. This distinctive dance form is definitely making a huge impact in cultural exchange and is a clear statement that the world can be connected by dance.