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A Connections Through Culture grant enabled myself, Artistic Director of Scottish Dance Theatre (Scotland’s leading contemporary dance company) and our General Manager, Amanda Chinn to visit India to explore the possibility for creative exchange between India and Scotland. Teamwork co-ordinated our visit, in collaboration with SDT’s International Producer, Nelson Fernandez, who together introduced us to many key people involved in dance and theatre in Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi. Every day we were impressed by the way in which artists and arts organizers multitask, network and collaborate to achieve their goals and serve the community. And we had help and hospitality from many people including Ranvir Shah of the Prakriti Foundation and Gitanjali Jolly who facilitated our visit to Kolkata so ably. We were looking for people interested in interacting with SDT’s practice, in sharing their work with us and in opening creative dialogues, wherever they could happen. As part of the process of forming connections, I gave 4 presentations and a workshop to introduce our company, its philosophy and repertoire and as a lever to open dialogue. Issues around classical form, creativity and innovation emerged at the beautifully situated Kalakshetra Foundation. Here Director, Leela Samson, had invited a gathering of mostly mature artists and teachers of Chennai and gracefully encouraged discussion around potential barriers to reading, understanding and appreciation of each other’s forms. This dialogue opened windows. Our welcome at Attakalari was as warm and delicious as the chai. Jayachandran Palazhy introduced a beautiful studio performance of the company’s work at their Bangalore home to start our dialogue. Everywhere artists deserve better creative spaces - though Nrityagram is magical and ART is about to open its gem of a theatre in Bangalore. In a barren basement Padmini Chettur was arresting, both in performance and conversation. In Kolkata, we loved the cultural hub Ranan has created in a small apartment, the discussion and Vikram Iyengar’s drive to bring audiences and artists closer together. Thanks to Tanusree Shankar whose dedicated, animated dancers shared their work with us one Sunday morning during Durga Puja! Last stop Delhi. Anusha Lall at the base of the Gati Dance Forum, preparing for their first Festival of Contemporary Dance, IGNITE. Inspiring. Now back in Scotland. Dreaming and planning…… Janet Smith November 2010

Janet's Article for The British Council  

SDT's Artisitc Director's article for The British Council about her recent trip to India

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