Monthly Archives: August 2015

World Voice Project: Manchester residency programme for trainers

WVP trainer Shubhangi Tewari looks back at her residency programme in Manchester

The week-long Manchester Residency programme, brought together master trainers from nine countries with World Voice UK trainers and vocal leaders from the Greater Manchester Music Education Hub (GMMEH). Each of the overseas master trainers’ worked in a ‘celebration school’ chosen from nine boroughs of Greater Manchester — Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Tameside, Wigan, Stockport, Oldham, Trafford and Salford.

World Voice Project residency

World Voice Project residency programme in Manchester

I worked in the borough of Stockport with students from Cale Green Primary school, whom I taught a song in the pahadi language spoken in Himachal Pradesh, India. The students also learnt about some Indian musical instruments and some features of north Indian classical music. There were also one-off workshops in other schools in Stockport — Mersey Vale, Prospect Vale and Back Lane Primary schools.

WVP trainer, Shubhangi Tewari

WVP trainer, Shubhangi Tewari

The World Voice Project aims to promote learning through song. By learning a song from a different culture and using it as a springboard into the learning of various aspects of that culture and country made learning much more joyful. One could tell by the twinkle in the students’ eyes and the complete focus with which they learnt the song, asked questions and also by their impeccable behaviour.

I also had the opportunity to observe some activities carried out by the Stockport Music Service — like observing a Guitar Wider opportunities session in progress and also attending a squad performance by children at St. Joseph’s Primary School. It was a privilege to be invited to performances by the GMMEH brass band and “It’s a Musical World” event at the Macron stadium in Bolton, where many schools from the borough of Bolton participated in and presented music from cultures as diverse such as the Carribean, Colombian, native American and South African, among others.

On the final day of the residency, we had performances through the day at the University of Manchester, with students from every celebration school from the Greater Manchester region, performing the songs they learnt from India, Jordan, Palestine, Senegal, Nepal, Ethiopia, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. They even sung local songs and a number specially written for the World Voice Project called Starlight.

World Voice workshop in Manchester

World Voice workshop in Manchester

It was incredible to watch so many young children from the UK sing in different languages — Pahadi, Amharic, Wolof, Arabic, Spanish and Nepali, which they had picked up within a matter of four sessions. The experience was and deeply moving, re-iterating for all to see, the immense power of music and song in cutting across barriers of language, culture and all other markers of difference and creating sheer joy, a positive inquisitiveness into lives’ and cultures’ different from one’s own and a sense of remarkable achievement.

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Building bridges through dance

Vanessa Mirza, Director, Dance Bridges Festival, Kolkata, India 2015, writes about her experience of organising a multi-dimensional dance festival in Kolkata. The British Council was one of many partners of the festival, which concluded recently. 

The Dance Bridges Festival. Photo by Tanaya Bhattacharya

The Dance Bridges Festival. Photo by Tanaya Bhattacharya

The Dance Bridges Festival is a new initiative for dance and the performing arts in Kolkata by Dance Alliance Kolkata. The theme: “Talking Points in Choreography; Dialogues Across Cultures” emerged from a personal curiosity as a choreographer to know more about the creative process of different artists and how cultural influences affect choreographic works.

In curating performances for the Festival, I selected works that highlight this individuality and specificity, sometimes in subtle ways in others more overtly. Artists for the Festival included Van Huynh Company (UK), Anarchy Dance Theatre (Taiwan), I-Fen Tung (Taiwan), Sydney Skov (USA), Janet Reed (USA),Tomas Danielis (Austria), Rocio Berenguer (France), Prasanna Saikia & Buoyant Performing Arts (India). There were also special presentations and workshops by Waileth & Bardon (Sweden) & Meghna Bhardwaj (New Delhi).

Every artist and piece carried a different flavour that is a result of a personal history of dance training, choreographic style, creative decisions but also a reflection of cultural perceptions, thinking and infiltrations. It has been a great pleasure to network with different artists and provide for their needs creating an international experience for performing arts right here in Kolkata.

Artists in residency with members from Van Huynh Company

Artists in residency with members from Van Huynh Company. Photo by Tanaya Bhattacharya

A very special part of the Dance Bridges Festival, was a three-week residency with artists from the Van Huynh Company in Kolkata with local dancers. Choreographer, Dam Van Huynh created a beautiful work titled “Resonance” with a company of five local artists and dancer Ieva Navickaite for the Festival. The 20-minute piece has original music accompaniment by Martyna Poznanska created from environmental sounds she recorded live in Kolkata.

Along with performances, the Festival included a section of film screenings with 20 dance films from over 14 countries. The dance films were curated in collaboration with Screendance Festival Sweden, Goethe Institut Kolkata, Gati Dance Forum and other independent artists. This was a truly unique part of the Festival and brought audiences insights into choreographic developments in dance as an art in the medium of film from across the world. During the Festival there were also several workshops in eastern and western styles of dance at different studios in the city providing another platform for sharing knowledge, connection and exchange.

Artists in residency with members from Van Huynh Company Tanaya Bhattacharya

Artists in residency with members from Van Huynh Company. Photo by Tanaya Bhattacharya

As the artistic director and producer for the Festival, it has been a long process of connecting with sponsors and partners. The Festival was possible due to the support and collaboration of Swar Sangam, ITC Ltd.,Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan, the Austrian Embassy & Austrian Cultural Forum New Delhi, The Swedish Arts Grants Committee (Konstnärsnämnden), Alliance Francaise du Bengale, British Council, Screendance Festival( Sweden), t2 Telegraph, 91.9 Friends FM, Soni Power, Add Life Caring Minds, Rhythmosaic Dance Company, Buoyant Performing Arts Centre, Sparsh Studio for Performing Arts, The Calcutta School of Music aHotel Nest International, Chaitown Creatives and Berger Paints.

It is my intention to host this Festival as a biennial event and the next edition is due to take place in 2017. I hope the Dance Bridges Festival grows from this first edition to continue in building artistic bridges and cultural exchanges within creative communities across the world.

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Building relations between humans and the natural world

Parallel Dimension © Anand Moy Banerji / Kristine Michael / Sujata Singh

Parallel Dimension © Anand Moy Banerji / Kristine Michael / Sujata Singh

‘Parallel Dimensions’ brings together the diverse work of three artists who trained in the United Kingdom at formative stages of their careers. Showcasing printmaking, ceramics, painting and drawings, this exhibition delves into individual narratives, societal structures and the intrinsic relationship between humans and the natural world. ‘Parallel Dimensions’ blurs the distinction between ‘fine art’, craft and illustration and serves to demonstrate the potential of diverse media and techniques of art-making.

Anand Moy Banerji

Anand Moy Banerji

Ananda Moy Banerji sees the role of the artist as a social commentator who examines social and political structures that govern the relationships between individuals and communities. From painting landscapes while in rural Shantiniketan, he shifted focus to portraying the chaos of urban everyday life in the mid-Eighties when he moved to Delhi. His recent works explore themes drawn from personal experiences and as a reflection on the state of the world around him. Formal elements such as line, colour and spatial composition play an important role in his work. Ananda Moy studied at Camberwell College of Art under the Charles Wallace India Trust and is currently Vice Principal of the South Delhi Polytechnic for Women, New Delhi.

Kristine Michael

Kristine Michael

Kristine Michael’s initial training was in industrial ceramic design at the NID, Ahmedabad, however her foremost passion and research focus remained the non-industrial craft object, and the aesthetics and beauty contained in objects of everyday use. Her interest in the Arts and Crafts Movement was bolstered by her apprenticeship at the semi-industrial Dartington Pottery, which had strong connections with Shantiniketan and Rabindranath Tagore. She works primarily in clay and has researched India’s design history of ceramic art and craft. Her current body of work delves into the symbolism of forms drawn from nature, how different groups of animate beings relate to each other creating new relationships and interpretations of feminine mythologies. As a Charles Wallace India Trust and Nehru Trust scholar, Kristine studied at Aldermaston Pottery, Dartington and the V&A Museum and presently teaches at the British School in Delhi.

Sujata Singh

Sujata Singh

Sujata Singh specialised in illustration in the mid-Eighties, at a time when image-making was being re-invented through a variety of media and techniques. In the UK, she was exposed to not just cutting-edge work in editorial illustration, with its widely diverse subject matters ranging from politics and satire to food, popular culture and fiction, but also classical Egyptian, Greek, Assyrian, African and Eastern art in the museums there; all of which have impacted the formal elements of her work. She focuses on the human form, for its figurative, pictographic and iconic qualities, and for its potential to serve as a metaphor for the minutiae of the everyday as well as historical cultural narratives. Sujata studied at Camden Arts Centre, Central School of Art and Design and Wimbledon School of Arts. She currently teaches at the British School in Delhi.

The show opens at the British Council Gallery, New Delhi, from 13 August 2015. Timings: 10.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. Open till 30 September. Details here 

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Shakespeare-India connect: expect emotions galore on screen

Writers, directors and producers from the UK and India were put through a week-long intensive training workshop in July 2015 by Film London in the UK to develop projects influenced by the works of William Shakespeare. They share their experiences here 

Indian writer / director Rajat Kapoor (right) at the workshops

Indian writer / director Rajat Kapoor (right) at the workshops © Film London / Anna Gordon

Deborah Sathe, Film London
My team and I were delivering a Microschool with the British Council when the idea to work with India came about. Independent film suffers the same challenges here and there, but with The Lunchbox setting the world alight, it felt now was the right time to join forces with India, train the most promising talent together and see whether forming international feature film teams would help serve two domestic markets. Two years later, and with the help of William Shakespeare, I find myself on day four of Microwave International: Shakespeare India. We have 16 exceptional filmmakers working on six contemporary Shakespeare stories, world class mentors and speakers, and lots of coffee. At the end of this week the projects will take all their learning away and resubmit their projects for pitching. One of these will be greenlit into production with our partners Cinestaan and Bob & Co, and the ensuing film take part in the big Shakespeare celebrations in 2016.

To get to this point has taken an unbelievable amount of work, as is so often the case when delivering something new. However, looking at these incredible storytellers and the ‘arranged marriages’ they have formed with their UK/Indian counter parts, I am beyond delighted with the results.

Ashish Ghadiali, writer/director for Realism (based on Macbeth)
If this was ordinary Microschool I’d still be counting my lucky stars. Lectures from stalwarts like Peter Buckingham, Tristan Goligher, Mick Audsley, mentoring from a producer of the calibre of Andrea Calderwood: I see myself waving my script at her in some festival bar while she runs for her coat, but here the engagement is direct, the feedback free-flowing and with every minute in her presence I feel the project and my own self raised to a whole other level of performance. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg because this isn’t ordinary. It’s Microschool India. I’ve been seeking this space, where professionals from India and the UK could really take the time to learn from one another and create something new for nearly a decade. It’s dreamy to have found it and I feel like the future is being seeded here in these collaborations. It’s a visionary scheme.

Indian Writer/Director Bornila Chatterjee

Indian Writer/Director Bornila Chatterjee © Film London / Anna Gordon

Bornila Chatterjee, writer/director for The Crorepatis (based on Titus Andronicus)
This is storytelling bootcamp. The days are packed and the mentors are relentless. They ask us the difficult questions we want to avoid, they do not provide all the answers and they challenge us to think hard about the essence, the core — the actual story we want to tell. Tough? Sure. Which is why these first two days have been way better than film school ever was, and more insightful that any screenwriting class I’ve ever taken.

Andrea Calderwood, producer mentor (films include The Last King of Scotland and A Most Wanted Man)
Love, passion, murder, betrayal, revenge —  it’s all going on at Microschool India this week. [Six combined Indian and British writer/producer/director teams have six ambitious projects to make a Shakespeare-inspired Indian-connected feature film, and the full range of human emotion is in play.]

What’s special about the Microschool project is that it’s not simply a theoretical training exercise – out of the six projects, the funding is available to make one of the films, with the possibility that others might be helped to finance their films too. This very real prospect of production sharpens everyone’s minds. An intense timescale of one week of workshops leading to the final pitch in six weeks time means the entire development process is accelerated, and it’s inspiring to see the huge development leaps — which would normally take months of agonizing and debate — which can be made with total focus in 24 hours.

The combination of Shakespeare dealing with the fundamentals of human emotion, and the mentoring process dealing with the fundamentals of filmmaking in a week leads to a no-holds-barred atmosphere, which should produce some explosive and attention-grabbing films.

Sharmila Chauhan, UK writer for The Heart of the City (based on The Taming of the Shrew)
Some might say being almost 38 weeks pregnant and then having an arranged marriage may be the wrong way of doing things. So far this week I have been introduced and married to the intelligent and artistically-sensitive Pratyusha Gupta (director) and the inspiring, warm Ameenah Allen (producer) as part of what I hope will be a long-term commitment. And who says assisted introductions don’t work? Having faith in the process and your partners is something integral to the creative experience — and the Microschool has definitely has accelerated that process.
My wives and I have had an intense week: a full on holistic look of film from script to editing, together with one-to-ones with mentors and many a late night working on script.
There has been an outpouring of ideas and many seeds of ideas have been uprooted and then replanted in new ground. But now this ground has been fertilised by all three of us.
I’m excited to see how our film will grow. And I’m glad that she has now has three mothers, watching to see what she will become.

Microschool in progress

Microschool in progress © Film London / Anna Gordon

Rahul Merchant, distribution mentor from India (India’s FAME cinema chain, Bubble Motion Pte Ltd)
Microschool is an outstanding and earnest initiative, combining great talent from India and UK and enabling great stories to come to life. The sessions with industry leaders are insightful, and thought-provoking enough to empower producers with enough knowledge and power across all disciplines of film making. I sincerely believe the film that does come out of this initiative will be the one the world will sit up and take notice of, and a purist outcome of a well defined, well articulated and mentored program. I wish for this initiative to grow and become the leader on Microschooling across the world and for more film makers and producers to get encouraged to make their dreams come true on celluloid.

 

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Museums as civic spaces: Insights from UK at global museums meet

As part of the eighth international conference on the Inclusive Museum, the British Council has partnered with International Council Of Museums (ICOM)  to present two speakers from the UK for the ICOM 2015: Charles Landry and Emily Pringle. They will be presenting their talks on the concept of museums as civic spaces at the National Science Museum in New Delhi and then travel to Kolkata for a discussion on inclusive cultural leadership.  They share their insights from their talk.

About the speakers:

Emily Pringle

Emily Pringle

Emily Pringle, is the Head of Learning and Research Practice at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, UK.  She has an interest in the role of the artist in education contexts and in developing creative and sustainable research and evaluation models.
About Emily’s talk: Titled ‘Reflecting on museum practice: Values-led research and collaboration at Tate’, Emily’s talk will address the importance of implementing research and reflective practice in order to raise the quality of the work that museums do with communities and key collaborators. Emily says: “Drawing on the experience of Tate Gallery’s Learning department in London I will describe how we have established a values-led approach to our practice, highlighting the benefits (and the challenges) that this has brought to our work.”

Charles Landry

Charles Landry

Charles Landry is the Director, Comedia and Inventor of Creative City and Creative City Index.  He is an international authority on the use of imagination and creativity in urban change. He invented the concept of the Creative City in the late ’80s. This became a global movement and changed the way cities thought about their capabilities and resources.
About Charles’ talk:
Charles’s talk will give an overview on the importance of the museum in our daily lives, as places of connection; places of possibility; and places of inspiration. He says, “The challenge for museums and galleries is to harness their physical assets – artefacts, pictures or documents – with their imaginative resources which lie with museum workers.” Charles stresses on the nature of museums and their free spirit and the potential of learning.

The speakers will be part of the Inclusive Museums Conference between August 7-9, National Science Centre, New Delhi . They will also be part of a discussion on “Inclusive Cultural Leadership being held at the Indian Museum in Kolkata on 12 August. More information is available here.

Post by: Debesh Banerjee

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‘I reflect upon the role of a dancer’

Marina Collard

Marina Collard

Dancer and choreographer Marina Collard has been involved with dance for over two decades. Her main interests lie in collaborating with artists from other disciplines. Still Going is her solo performance in collaboration with filmmaker Tom Paine.  Her 20-minute dance piece infuses film projection, by Paine, which honours and at the same time poses questions about her life in dance. Marina shares her insight on the piece and her style. Excerpts:

What is Still Going about?
Still Going captures a particular time in my life when I was making it. Which is true of all the works I make. I had for a long time been interested in and actively engaged in oil painting. The nature and materiality of the paint, the approach to working on a large canvas, the mixing and layering of colour etc. There are, of course, undertones of a more personal nature where I am playing with the possibility of retiring from performing and the idea of ‘should’ within this context. There are also some reflections in there about the role of a dancer that are not necessarily explicit and don’t need to be.

How did it evolve?
I don’t ever feel that pieces get made in isolation. They are part of a bigger narrative of making work and an investment in an art practice that is ongoing. What we don’t access easily in dance – unless we follow a choreographer’s development closely – is the same perspective of the work as you might if you were to see the work of a painter exhibited.

How does the film projection become a character in your piece?
I don’t see it in this way. It is a whole work. The whole visual and aural field is the work and the two elements, film and body are integral to the coherence of the work along with the sound/sonic image. I cannot remove one from the other. The solo wouldn’t have become what it is without the film. There is a relationship, of course, which is concerned with saturation, immersion and this hovering uncertainty.
I remember when I first started working with Tom and he made a passing comment saying ‘film is about light’. This may seem very simple but for me that was a transformative moment because it made me see things differently. The way I perceived, viewed and noticed things was focused differently.

Is your personal identity reflected through the performance?
From my perspective, it is impossible not to have some autobiographical element making work. I don’t know that I can honestly think of anyone who can remove themselves from their work. This doesn’t necessarily mean it as to be autobiographical, but it might be about the way they think or perceive things, or things they are interested and keep them curious.

How was it collaborating with Tom Paine?
I have been working with Tom for the past 15 years. We have made a number of short films as well as working in this capacity. That is, developing a projection as an integral part of the work. So you could argue that it is not really a solo. We are both present in the work.

You can watch a video of Still Going here.

Post by: Debesh Banerjee

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