Tag Archives: New Delhi

David Leddy writing workshops in India

Being a writer is wonderful in many ways and frustrating in many ways. Words are very literal things. As Bjork says “words are useless, especially sentences.”  You can stretch language and manipulate it, that’s what I love to do. But it falls off a cliff pretty quick. The more obtuse your writing becomes the more it turns into linguistic soup. I often feel rather envious of visual artists for the freedom and ambiguity that the non-textual affords. It’s so much easier to be elliptical, indirect, atmospheric.

In November 2016 I came to Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Kolkata to lead workshops for writers and to have a series of meetings with artists who I might collaborate with in the future. The British Council asked me to write a blogpost about it.

So, bearing in mind what I’ve described above, I decided that I would give you a visual essay, a series of atmospheres that sums up my trip in an indirect way. I hope you enjoy it.

© David Leddy

© David Leddy

© David Leddy

© David Leddy

© David Leddy

© David Leddy

© David Leddy

© David Leddy

 

© David Leddy

© David Leddy

© David Leddy

Welcome home biscuits © David Leddy

 

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A Cultural Shift: Dan Daw of Candoco Dance Company on disability in dance

Dance artist, Dan Daw, recently spent 10 days touring India with Candoco Dance Company, performing Studies for C supported by the British Council. In this blog, he captures his thoughts, feelings and observations of his first trip to India

Studies For C performers, Dan Daw and Mirjam Gurtner in Chennai

Studies For C performers, Dan Daw and Mirjam Gurtner in Chennai

Incredible India. Before experiencing India for myself, I’d look at that slogan plastered to the entire surface of a London black cab with a cynicism asking, “How can an entire country be described as just ‘incredible’?” It is a slogan our taxi driver in Delhi would exclaim proudly as we’d stop, patiently waiting while a holy bull sauntered nonchalantly across a road in rush hour, or as we’d swerve out of the way of vehicles coming toward us in strategic attempts to expedite their journey.

Having been, I can now answer my own question of doubt and unknowing by saying, “Because that’s exactly what it is. In every sense of the word, India is incredible.”

It is indeed a difficulty to pinpoint the very thing that makes India so incredible, but if held to task, it would absolutely be the people. This would be confirmed as I departed Chennai, departed Kolkata and departed Delhi on our 10-day tour, finding myself thinking back to moments shared with new-found friends.

Connected to each performance of Studies for C by Javier de Frutos, a work we have been touring with on and off for almost four years, was a post-show discussion, which revealed just how sincere and genuinely interested in Candoco Dance Company’s work, approach and legacy the people in each of the three cities actually were.

Artiste Dan Daw (middle) in a post-show discussion with Dr Ambika Kameshwar (second from left) in Chennai

Artiste Dan Daw (middle) in a post-show discussion with Dr Ambika Kameshwar (second from left) in Chennai

Although clear that dance therapy was the broader understanding of inclusive dance practice, there was a sense of wanting to move beyond the notion that dance for disabled people was simply to ‘fix’ them.

How did our audiences respond? Our performance sparked debate and raised some interesting and key questions from within the Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi audiences and arts communities about how a cultural shift might be able to occur to allow perceptions to expand. As an artist and producer, I am interested in the traces my practice leaves behind; the ripples that remain long after the pool closes.

Studies For C in Delhi

Studies For C in Delhi

It is my hope, rather than expectation, that these traces provoke a shift in artistic and social consciousness.

How do we, as foreign artists, facilitate this shift in artistic and social consciousness?

In 10 days it is impossible to know what this shift is, let alone how to facilitate it, but with the foundation a series of performances, post-show discussions, press engagements and community workshops provides, a structure can now be built and I suspect construction will begin soon.

 

About Dan Daw:

Dan Daw

Dan Daw

Dan danced with Candoco for four years from 2010 until 2014 and worked as Assistant Creative Producer in 2013. He still performs with the company in Studies for C and Imperfect Storm.

He completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts at the Flinders University Drama Centre in 2004. And joined Restless Dance Company in 2002, performing in works by Ingrid Voorendt, Kat Worth, Daisy Brown, Michael Whaites, Garry Stewart, and Billie Cook.

In early 2006, Dan danced with UK company FRONTLINE dance in their 5th Anniversary Tour and in 2007 he performed with Scottish Dance Theatre as Guest Dancer in Adam Benjamin’s Angels of Incidence for their Spring Tour. In 2007/2008, Dan worked with Kate Champion’s Force Majeure performing in The Age I’m In for the 2008 Sydney and Adelaide Festivals.

READ: For more information on the Studies For C India tour, click here: 

 

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Kathryn Harkup: the secret poisons of Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie had most certainly one poison for every occasion. As her tally of “killings” in her novels reflects that a total of 100 killings out of 300 were committed by poison. As a former volunteer nurse in World War 1, Christie had gained extensive knowledge of her chemicals. No wonder she used them to good effect to eliminate her characters.

In her debut non-fiction book , A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie chemist Dr Kathryn Harkup reveals her passion and respect for the work of Agatha Christie.

In this blog post, Harkup shares some interesting trivia & lesser-known facts about Christie and her use of poison through her fiction series.

  • Christie used more poisons and more often than any other crime writer. Her toxic tally is over 30 different killer compounds. She killed over 300 characters, over 100 of them by poison. She consistently displays an impressively high degree of accuracy in her use of poisons.

    Kathryn Harkup

    Kathryn Harkup, author of “A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie”

Christie trained as an Apothecaries’ Assistant during WWI which made her very knowledgeable in chemistry as well as dangerous drugs and different prescriptions that were available. Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, written when she was working in a hospital dispensary, used three drugs to kill the victim (bromide powders, a narcotic and strychnine). She was complimented on her accuracy by a reviewer in The Pharmaceutical Journal, a review she was said to cherish above all others.

  • Her novel The Pale Horse used thallium, a very unusual poison. The plot was similar to some aspects of a real-life poisoning case, Graham Young who poisoned several of his work colleagues with thallium, and it was suggested Christie may have inspired him but he always denied it. But the novel may have saved two lives because the accurate descriptions of thallium poisoning symptoms alerted doctors to the true cause of a young girl’s mysterious illness.
  • Christie often used real-life murder cases as inspiration for her plots. Aspects of the Dr Crippen poisoning case appear in Ordeal by Innocence. The arsenic in the cake in After the Funeral is similar to the Marie LaFarge case. The suspected arsenic poisoning in Murder is Easy is very similar to the Armstrong case.

*This post was contributed by Dr Kathryn Harkup who will present her session at the Crime Writers Festival at the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival on 15 January & on the 17 Jan at the Oxford Books store, Connaught Place, New Delhi.

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BBC Arts Hour: How tolerant is Indian Culture of new ideas?

Depending on how you look at it, India is either a deeply divided place where new ideas are constantly held back, or a land brimming with energy and new, diverse voices befitting the world’s biggest democracy.

A panel of artists and commentators came together at the British Council in New Delhi on 17 September, to talk about the boundaries of acceptability of India’s art, books and culture. Is India at a cultural crossroads and how tolerant is it of new ideas?

The BBC Arts Hour panellists at the recording session of The Arts Hour

The BBC Arts Hour panellists at the recording session of The Arts Hour

On the one hand are cases like the exile of legendary artist M. F. Husain, who was driven away after certain of his artworks were forbidden from being exhibited. Senior journalist and columnist Swapan Dasgupta highlighted the contradiction in the fact that painter Raja Ravi Varma was celebrated for his portraits of voluptuous women as goddesses, while Husain was vilified.

BBC arts hour

Senior journalist and Columnist Swapan Dasgupta (left) and NGMA Director, Rajeev Lochan

His image of the naked goddess Saraswati was seen as offensive towards Hindus and led not only to legal action, but also resulted in his home being attacked by right-wing activists.
At the same time, there is a proliferation of new and diverse voices, as writer and journalist Raghu Karnad pointed out. They are difficult to track since India comprises so many languages, he explained, but there is a new explosion of writing by the Dalits. He cited the example of a Kannada lesbian romance film that wholly embraces the idea of two women in a relationship.

Click Here: Listen to the recording of BBC, The Arts Hour:

Although there have been recent cases of conservative reaction to, for instance, the film PK, Karnad said that there has never been a shortage of people in India whose sensibilities have been offended. Such offence should not, therefore, be assumed to be a phenomenon of our times alone.

Artist Sonia Khurana and theatre activist Shilpi Marwaha expressed their desire for women to be liberated from the shackles of tradition. Khurana said that her depictions of naked women were rejected by Indian galleries only to be received well abroad. They were finally shown after that at Delhi’s National Gallery of Modern Art, on the insistence of fellow panellist, NGMA Director Rajeev Lochan.

BBC arts hour 2

The audience listening to The Arts Hour

Against the backdrop of the famous “Delhi rape case”, an incident involving the tragic rape and fatal assault on 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey, there is a heightened level of awareness about the treatment of women in society.

The incident, which sparked intense international coverage and mass protest in India, inevitably reared its head during the panel discussion. According to Shilpi Marwah the way people react to women has transformed as a result of the publicity around the case.

A sensational slam poet and rapper, Rene Sharanya Verma, lyrically captured the moment with her debut performance of the powerful piece Reclaim the Night, which was a call for women to be able to embrace the streets after dark.

She says her work aims to empower women and raise awareness of misogyny in India. The discussion ended on the subject of digital media’s capability to empower huge numbers of people. The proliferation of mobile phones is encouraging and enabling art to be consumed and shared more easily. On the flip side, this can mean more opinions are expressed which leaves art in India open to more criticism.

The jury is divided as to how open Indian culture is to new ideas. A live performance by the two-member electro-fusion band ‘Basanti aur Woh’, fusing Led Zeppelin rock with Sanskrit lyrics certainly left our live audience feeling optimistic about the chances for diverse, fresh ideas to flourish.

Post by: PRIYA KHANCHANDANI
The writer is the Head of Arts Programmes for the British Council in India

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Aisling Fahey: Long Night of LiteratureS

UK performance poet Aisling Fahey who is also the Young Poet Laureate for London, is in India for a session of readings as part of the Long Night of LiteratureS literary event this month. She will also be travelling to three cities: Chandigarh, Guwahati and Pune for readings. She shares how she was drawn into poetry in this blog:

  • Can you tell us about how you got into poetry

Having always loved reading and writing stories, when I got involved in a poetry project at school, the London Teenage Poetry Slam, at 13, there wasn’t any looking back. That vibrant introduction to poetry showed me the power carefully crafted words can have. They are a way to interrogate, understand and record. When you experience the impact poetry can have, and feel the atmosphere of a live event where somebody is holding the whole room with their words, you cannot help but become addicted to the art form. At 15 I joined Barbican Young Poets, a programme run by Jacob Sam-La Rose. This provided a regular space to learn about, read and write poetry, along with opportunities for publishing and performing. Still now, I use the community of writers established in various projects I’ve been a part of over the years, in order to push me, inspire me and keep me motivated.

Aisling Fahey

Aisling Fahey at a session from the Barbican Junior Poets in June this year ©Susana Sanroman

  • How did you become Young Poet Laureate of London? What has your role entailed?

There is a relatively lengthy application process for Young Poet Laureate for London. It involved initial applications, a long-listing day where you perform for a panel of esteemed judges, then a residential week for the shortlisted six filled with workshops, before a final interview. Last year, it was Lemn Sissay who announced the result on National Poetry Day in October. The role has entailed interaction with various communities and groups in London, from five to six year olds in my old primary school, to sixty year old women from Ireland, where my family is from. It has involved performances, events, workshops, panels, talks, and what has underpinned all of this is an engagement with poetry and people. I hope that I have successfully shown some of what poetry can do, and how it fits snugly into so many different environments.

 

Aisling Fahey © Leonie Morse

Aisling Fahey © Leonie Morse

  • What are you looking forward to about your trip to India with the British Council?

I’m looking forward to discovering, learning and immersing myself as much as I can in a way only travel allows. I am also interested to see how my work, with its influences and references, will be received by new audiences. How will the sharing of my work in such a different place transcend any cultural differences that may be present? The literature that I love most is that which may be very far from my scope of experience, but still manages to speak directly to me. It will be really interesting to see if my work manages to do this in any way.

Also, the Long Night of LiteratureS event taking place in Delhi on 25 September will be incredible. That event brings together artists from across Europe and India, I’m always excited to talk to artists from different places and learn from their practice and experience. Most of all I’m looking forward to letting all of the new people and experiences soak in, I’ll be collecting stories that I can bring back home to savour, and retell as winter settles in an attempt to conjure back some of the heat.

 

 

Extract from Cab Rides At Dawn

 

In the place where dawn breaks continuously,

I am relearning the properties of light.

I used to go hunting for stars on my aunt’s farm,

come back with them between my teeth

like the flesh of an exotic fruit.

We dont have these in the city, I’d say,

swallowing them until they settled in my belly,

before exploding, making me shine outward.

I confess more to strangers than to friends.

 

I am discussing Poetry and God in a cab
with a driver from Bulgaria.

If I recorded my conversations with cab drivers

I think I’d be closer to my dreams.

I always ask them where is home 

as they drive me to a place that is meant to be mine.

 

 

Extract from Foreign Bodies

When a stranger pronounces my name right

I want to cut our ears off,

dig for other sounds we share.

 

There are names I cannot pronounce.
Each time, my tongue becomes a guilty weight,
I score a tally on my thigh
of all the countries I have not been to.

We love what is foreign
because it reminds us of ourselves.

 

III.

My face is my parents’ homeland,

sometimes they look at it and cry

for all the things they’ve lost,

their lost things crawl under my skin,
look, there is the river we never did swim in,
I don’t know which one of them spots it,
the vein at my temple,
but by the time they turn around
the other one has long gone.

Entombed in my face is what they built together,
when they were in the business
of making love and lives
in foreign lands.

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World Voice Project: Master Trainer workshop in Delhi

The Master Trainer workshop held in August 2015 was a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with World Voice colleagues from our Himalayan partner states and welcoming back our dear WVP Artistic Director, Richard Frostick.

world voice delhi

Shubhangi Tewari, WVP trainer, conducting a session with participants

 

 

Having Richard amongst us, infuses us with loads of inspiration, new techniques as well as, ideas for the forthcoming WVP year. I re-call attending my first WVP workshop in March 2013. Watching Richard interact with school children and help them to find their singing voices was truly heart-warming. The positivity, love and ease with which he communicated with the students, has stayed with me and continues to inspire my own practice as a WVP trainer.

During the recent Master Trainer Workshop, I had an opportunity to share experiences from the World Voice Manchester residency program, which I had attended. Here I met WVP leaders and master trainers from across the world! We marvelled at the authenticity with which British Primary School children sang in languages from countries as diverse as Argentina, Chile, Brazil, the UK, Senegal, Ethiopia, Jordan, Palestine, Nepal and India at the residency finale concert in Manchester University.

world voice project Delhi

WVP workshop participants in New Delhi

It is the third year for WVP in India, and the state master trainers’ shared their incredible work with school children in Himachal, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Jammu, Delhi and the NCR. It was indeed wonderful to receive feedback from teachers that ever since they started singing in the classroom on a regular basis; the students were happier, smiled a lot more, were more energetic, alert, getting better at remembering facts or concepts and attended school more regularly!

On a personal note, singing is the most significant part of my life. I experience the happiness it provides on a daily basis. To be able to extend this joy to young people is the most valuable aspect of working with the World Voice Project.

Post by: Shubhangi Tewari, WVP Trainer 

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World Voice Project: Singing and drama in NDMC Navyug classroom

 

The third workshop for the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and Navyug teachers was held from 26 August – 28 August, 2015 at the NDMC Convention Centre, New Delhi. The workshop introduced the World Voice Project (W.V.P.) and the Drama in Classroom Project (D.C.P.) to a new batch of 30 teachers. In addition to being a top-up training for eight teachers who had attended previous WVP workshops (held on 1 October – 4 October, 2013 and 10 February – 12 February, 2015).

NDMC workshop

The NDMC workshop in progress

The workshop presented ‘music’ and ‘drama’ as additional tools to promote wider curriculum learning. The participants learnt new warm-ups, songs, drama/song teaching techniques, lesson-planning and ways of integrating WVP/ DCP with the curriculum. The discussions and interactive sessions were particularly interesting as participants (including, primary school subject teachers, music teachers, art teachers and special education teachers) raised thought-provoking questions that highlighted the relevance and effectiveness of an art integrated teaching pedagogy. While the session with 30 students from class five demonstrated ways of introducing WVP and DCP in classrooms and was appreciated very much.

School children at the NDMC workshop in New Delhi

School children at the NDMC workshop in New Delhi

It was heartening to hear the students sing Daw Hyfryd Fis (a WVP Welsh song) which was learnt in less than 10 minutes and curriculum linkages were established through it. The workshop concluded with the participants showing an eagerness to apply the newly acquired skills in their classrooms.

 

 

Voices from the Workshop:

Megh Malti: As an art teacher, WVP and DCP could be used to establish a friendly rapport with students and encourage them to think freely as well as, ‘creatively’..…. She felt she had learnt a lot during the  workshop and could use it to make her  subject (drawing) even more interesting!

Pooja: As a physical education teacher, WVP singing games could be used to engage more effectively with students. In sports or any other physical sport, quick reaction time….played a crucial role in determining the quality of the player and WVP warm-ups as well as, singing games could be used to facilitate this…. Besides, during her arrangement / substitution classes, she could use DCP to teach EVS and other subjects too! …..

Astha: ”Classes 6 – 10 were taught Senwa (song from Congo) in 2013 and they remembered it even in 2015! (earlier trained participant).”

Deepti Tyagi: ”She felt fusing arts with academics helped establish a good rapport with students. The entire class became joyful and meaningful.…….(earlier trained participant).”

Rajesh Singh Negi: ”‘Zaruri nahi hai ki aap apne bacchon ko tansen banaaein….bachoon ko kaansen banaein’…. and WVP helped in the endeavour ! [Translation : It is not necessary for us to make the students into Tansen (*a prominent Hindustani musician and singer), instead make them specialists in listening and relating better……. which could be achieved through WVP] (earlier trained participant).”

 

Post by: Shivaa Rawat                                                                                                                        

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