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Unfettered Mind – With students of Trinity Laban BA2, Repertory Project-Dance Legends 2022

Unfettered Mind – With students of Trinity Laban BA2, Repertory Project-Dance Legends 2022


 

The Story


In 2018, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance invited us to take part in their BA2
Historical Project, in which Protima Chatterjee,
along with Tanusree Shankar lead a four-week intensive programme on Uday Shankar technique. The
students learned the Shankar Technique and
the repertory ‘Sacred Myths’  which included a section of reimagining Uday Shankar’s original choreography Kartikeya. Taking inspiration from this mythological piece a full choreography was developed adding new music and movement. This new piece Sacred Myths was performed in four public performances at the end of the project.

In May 2022, we were very kindly invited back by Trinity Laban to teach the same module to the BA2 batch. This time we worked on a new choreographic piece inspired by ‘Man and Machine’
originally composed by Uday Shankar in the 1940s.
With the addition of new choreography and music sections, our restaging of the piece titled ‘Unfettered Mind’ has a
contemporary interpretation of the theme.  It is a metaphor for breaking out of the
pre-conditioned shackles of the mind to find our
inner light and feel the oneness with the universe,

About ‘Unfettered Mind’


This dance draws its inspiration from a short piece ‘Man and Machine’ originally composed by
Uday Shankar in the 1940s which has pride of place in his film “Kalpana”. Uday Shankar created
this composition reflecting the challenges of industrialisation and transition from an
agricultural to an industrialised society. Our restaging of Man and Machine comes with a
contemporary interpretation of the theme- a metaphor for breaking out of the pre-conditioned
shackles of the mind to find our inner light and feel the oneness with the universe. The
underlying message cannot be more relevant than today. We have further elaborated on this theme
through addition of new choreographic sections. In these sections the dancers overcome odds to
break out of their machine shells, at ease with the natural world followed by a fluid and
graceful dance piece reflecting the beauty of life as it should be. They find peace amongst
nature and rediscover their inner selves leading into a dance of celebration, ending the piece
on a positive note of hope.

Music-Vishnu Das Shirali (original music of Man and Machine from Uday Shankar’s film Kalpana)
and Ananda Shankar.
Choreography – Uday Shankar, Tanusree Shankar
Technique classes and repertory rehearsals – Tanusree Shankar, Protima Chatterjee
Concept and Curation – Protima Chatterjee, Abundant Art UK

Technique Classes and Repertory Rehearsals

Unfettered Mind – Performance, Laban Theatre 30 June 2022


Student Feedback

About the program – Trinity Laban BA2, Repertory Project-Dance Legends

In this program, each Year 2 students on the BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance programme is immersed
in an intensive period of dance training and study which focuses on work created by a
choreographer who has made an important contribution to the development of dance in the 20th and
21st centuries. As well as being involved in the restaging of the choreography, students learn
about the historical, social, artistic and cultural contexts in which the work was originally
created. In addition, students participate in technique classes and theory classes which are
designed to equip them with the technical skills and artistic understanding necessary to meet
the demands of the piece. The result is a learning experience which integrates theory and
practice, and which exposes students both physically and intellectually to dance works of
historical and cultural significance. The Historical Project component at trinity Laban
introduces their BA2 students to some of the well-known and established repertoire from the 20th
century modern/contemporary dance. In this programme students gain a direct and practical
experience of selected choreographer’s work through intensive rehearsals and performance of
repertory extracts. The rehearsal directors teach the material to the group, decide the casting
and coach students towards the performance. With organised technical rehearsals in the Laban
Theatre students showcase the repertory piece they learn over the course of 4 weeks in 4 public
performances across two days. The performance of the repertory is the final assessment of the
practical aspect of this component. During this period, theoretical sessions are provided with
contextual and conceptual background necessary for an integrated understanding of the
choreographer and work they are studying. As part of this learning process students are
encouraged to reflect on their own experience of the historical repertory, and the ways it
contributes to their understanding of the work and its historical and contemporary significance.
Material covered in Investigating Arts Practice also support their work in this aspect of the
component. Individual Lecture Demonstrations after the performance is the assessment for this
aspect of the component.

A Meeting of Cultures: An inspiring dance story of Anna Pavlova and Uday Shankar and its lasting influence

A Meeting of Cultures: An inspiring dance story of Anna Pavlova and Uday Shankar and its lasting influence

Film Stills

Audience feedback


 

 

About the film:

The first performance of Anna Pavlova and Uday Shankar’s collaboration took place at the ROH in 1923 and this is where the story begins. The story is woven through the research and discoveries of the BA2 students of Laban who are a major part of the film. We follow two parallel storylines. One charts the story from the meeting between prima ballerina Anna Pavlova and the then unknown fine arts student at the Royal college of Art, Uday Shankar (elder brother of Ravi Shankar) to the flowering of the latter’s genius and the intense interactions with dancers and artists in the UK and other parts of the world. This ultimately leads to the birth of the first Indian contemporary dance through the distillation of different Indian dance forms and UK influences. The second storyline is the journey of contemporary dance students of Trinity Laban and their gradual discovery of this story as part of their dance heritage (BA2 Historical project – Dance Legends of the 20th century). The film culminates with the students restaging Uday Shankar’s iconic choreography “ Kartikeya” at the Bonny Bird Theatre at Trinity Laban.

The film is about how they unfold the first artistic connections between UK and India, ballet and contemporary dance and the birth of a new dance legacy through their research and technique learning and restaging rehearsals.

The story also explores the current relevance of this collaboration and how this is an inspiration to the current diverse cultural scene in the UK. We have had the opportunity to interview academics, dance practitioners, historians, curators Shankar’s family members and artists like Akram Khan, Mark Baldwin and upcoming south-Asian talents like Vidya Patel who speak about the current relevance of this iconic collaboration and their association with the heritage.

We recently launched the film in India with screenings in Kolkata and Mumbai at the NCPA.

The Film Premiers at the V&A on 1st May 2022

Venue: Hochauser Auditorium, Sackler Centre for arts education, Victoria and Albert Museum |Time: 2.00-3.30PM

 

 

Past Screenings

Yule Hall at the Tollygunge Club, Kolkata, India 27 Dec 2019 6.30 pm

National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, India, 12 Dec 2019 03.00 p.m.

Nandan, Kolkata, India, 09 Dec 2019 06.30p.m.

Festival

V&A Performance Festival 2022

Find out more

Cross Arts Engagement and Regeneration Project 2021

 

The Story

 

Like the rest of the art and culture community in the UK, our best-placed plans were disrupted by the pandemic. We saw the damage and wanted to respond in our own humble way as best as we could. That was when we thought about a programme that would create opportunities through the arts. The Cross Arts Engagement and Regeneration project was born! In this programme we combine diverse art forms, specifically: fine art, storytelling through films, interviews and dance, all while engaging young adults and the entire creative community.

This page is dedicated to the fine art, design, and enterprise segment of the project. In this, we tap into the creativity and enthusiasm of young students. We have engaged young students from the WKC through internship placements to create their own designs based on socially relevant themes with merchandising potential. We aim to connect art and business, with a focus on young adults preparing to start their careers.

This, we hope, will help renew confidence and sense of purpose, which has been battered by the travails of this pandemic, and prepare them for their careers ahead and beyond. From the perspective of businesses, this is an ideal way to engage and give back to the community through internship placements, increasing arts-based employability, skill and work experience, creative outputs on the topics of nature and sustainability, Black Lives Matter, the need to socialise, live theatre and connecting art and entrepreneurship.

 

Thank you Westminster Kingsway College for joining us:

Westminster Kingsway College partnered with Abundant Art in September 2020. The partnership was formed to allow students
from Westminster Kingsway College (WKC) to gain invaluable employability skills and prepare them for the world of work
through two-week placements. The partnership formed during the height of a pandemic, adding extra challenges as all
placements had to be adapted to take place in a virtual setting, which was a new way of working for both Abundant Art and the
college.

In nine months, Abundant Art have hosted 35 young people from WKC and have played a fundamental part in preparing
students for their futures. The 35 students were across different curriculum areas including, Art and Design, Business and
Creative Media – and all were given a variety of responsibilities to work on, directly relating to their chosen study programme.
The students were part of Abundant Art’s Cross Arts Regeneration Project which was established during the Pandemic to
encourage awareness within the Creative Industry, which was unfortunately, one of the Industries to take the biggest hit due to
the Coronavirus. The project’s aim was to generate a positive social and environmental impact through different forms of art
created by young people.

The Art and Design/ Creative Media students were given the task of creating logo’s and designs based on current social issues.
Different groups worked on various themes including Black Lives Matter, Saving Nature and The Importance of Gatherings and
Human Interaction (which had great relevance after the national lockdown).

During the two weeks the students were able to understand what it would be like working for a company and the importance of
structure, attendance and fulfilling commitments of an employee. The students had to join in on group sessions which consisted
of introductions, task allocations, expectations, and presentations. Presenting to a group is often a daunting task for young
people, so to have the opportunity to practice these skills is invaluable.

We are now delighted to launch our first exhibition to with the students works. Working on this projects has been challange and joy to successfully opportunity with Protima and Abundant Art has been a challenge, but together we have managed to successfully provide meaningful opportunities to a host of young people while navigating our way through a pandemic. The growth of the project has opened doors for many students, and we look forward to continue to do so.

Press Release

E-Invite

 

Thank you Arts Council England for the support

Art Works and Merchandise

Students’ Feedback

Mereveille Mpembele-Tajute
Westminster Kingsway College and Abundant Art - Student

"My work experience with Abundant Art was amazing. I didn’t think I would like it because it was virtual. I also learnt to work with Ava and Bella which was great!”

Ava Van Gestel
Westminster Kingsway College and Abundant Art - Student

“My experience of working with Abundant Art was quite challenging at the start but after some time it became very enjoyable. I picked up some valuable skills along the way such as teamwork and good work ethic.”

Bella Diallo
Westminster Kingsway College and Abundant Art - Student

“My time with Abundant Art has been a great. This is because it gave me an opportunity to get to know who Abundant Art gallery is. This project allowed me to work well as a team and show off our creative skills.”

MOVING FORWARD, LOOKING BACK #2020 – Stories of Bravery and Resilience, Artists During lockdown –  A short documentary film

MOVING FORWARD, LOOKING BACK #2020

Stories of Bravery and Resilience, Artists During lockdown –  A short documentary film

Press Mentions

Moving Forward, Looking Back #2020 is a new documentary charting the effects of the pandemic on the performing arts.

The film follows three dancers, as they navigate the succession of lockdowns and the sudden shutdown of their working lives – each one at a different stage of their professional development, each one experiencing that development grind to a halt.

So many times, during the pandemic we heard art being labelled as non-essential.

It may be too early to really assess the effects of such misplaced messaging on our society as a whole; as damaging the perception of art puts our own ability to project ourselves in the future at considerable risk, weakening the social fabric and alienating us from our true identity.

In a context where the functional took centre stage, this beautifully understated film performs a task that only art can deliver upon. It provides a fitting allegory to what our collective experience has felt like over the past year.

The footage was taken by the dancers themselves and has the authentic feel that only undoctored films can convey, with no attempt to dress up the scene as something it is not.

The challenges the protagonists are faced with are somewhat different for each of them as the dancers open up to us, giving a personal perspective on their life, that is strongly contrasted by their in-character performances, that punctuate the film.

Despite the innate technical limitations of such format, the film slowly induces the viewers to tune in to the rhythm of the modern dance performances, allowing the twists, breaks and turns of a modern dance routine to provide structure where there had appeared to be none.

Dance becomes the key to unlocking what first may appear as chaos. Elegance of movement, energy and a sense of ever-threatened balance, provide a welcomed framework not just for their performances, but also for the way they approach their respective personal lives, during the pandemic.

Despite the fear that surrounds them, they find the warmth to cultivate their emotions, to find better connections with their families and their communities.

They prove themselves to be essential workers in their own way – as art; the very thing that society seems to have turned away from gives them the means to forge meaning from the chaos.

END

 

 

London Lift Off Global Film Festival 2020- ‘A Meeting of Cultures’ nominated in the Official Selection!

London Lift Off Global Film Festival 2020- ‘A Meeting of Cultures’ nominated in the Official Selection!

Thank you and congratulations to everyone who have been involved in ‘A Meeting of Cultures’! Sharing another official selection for our film this year-the London Lift-Off Festival 2020! With everything shifting online, the entire festival is now available to watch on Vimeo on demand. The festival has launched on 1 December and will run for the entire month. You can watch a huge variety of independent films and also vote for two of your favourite films. This is a new experience for the entire team and we will be very happy to have your support in this exciting journey!! We are in the New Voice Features Category!!

Tickets are now available for purchase here:

We are in the New Voice Features Category!! The link below is the direct checkout page:

New Voice Features: London Lift-Off Film Festival 2020 » Powered by ThriveCart

About ‘A Meeting of Cultures’-The inspiring dance story of Anna Pavlova and Uday Shankar and its lasting influence

Duration-52:52, Completed on January 2020

Film by Protima Chatterjee/Editor: Roger Kitchen/Creative Producer: Piali Ray, O.B.E

The documentary film tells the story of this first of a kind dance partnership through the eyes of the BA2 dance students of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and dance. Contemporary dance has been shaped by multiple dance forms and cultural influences-this film explores one such influence through the collaboration between Prima Ballerina Anna Pavlova and the pioneer of modern Indian dancer Uday Shankar in the early 20th century.

The story explores the current relevance of this iconic collaboration and how this is an inspiration to today’s diverse cultural scene in the UK. With oral histories recorded from academics, historians, dance artists, choreographers, and filmmakers, young dancers from Trinity Laban unfold the first artistic connections between UK and India, western ballet and contemporary dance, and the birth of a new dance legacy. The film also showcases rare archival footage of historical value.

Uday Shankar’s Choreography ‘Kartikeya’ restaged by students of Trinity Laban (BA2 Historical Project)-the first milestone of our Heritage Project

Uday Shankar’s Choreography ‘Kartikeya’ restaged by students of Trinity Laban (BA2 Historical Project)-the first milestone of our Heritage Project

Uday Shankar’s Choreography ‘Kartikeya’ restaged by students of Trinity Laban (BA2 Historical Project)-the first milestone of our Heritage Project

We are overwhelmed to start our yearlong heritage project on Uday Shankar and Anna Pavlova with the BA2 Historical project at Trinity Laban. A 4 weeks intensive programme on Uday Shankar, where the students learnt the Shankar Technique and the repertory ‘Sacred Myths’ that they restaged at the end of the course included Shankar’s choreography Kartikeya, from the late 1930’s. A proud moment for our project to bring to life Karyikeya for the first time in the UK with the students of Trinity Laban.

This year alongside the works of Hose Limon, Merce Cunningham and Wayne McGregor, Uday Shankar was included in the programme.

The Uday Shankar segment of the historical project was delivered by Abundant Art as part of this Heritage project supported by The Heritage Lottery fund. Technique classes and restaging rehearsal taught by Tanusree Shankar and Protima Chatterjee. Theory lectures delivered by Tanusree Shankar, Piali Ray and Protima Chatterjee

During the Historical Project, each Year 2 student on the BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance programme is immersed in an intensive period of dance training and study which focuses on work created by a choreographer who has made an important contribution to the development of dance in the 20th and 21st centuries. As well as being involved in the restaging of the choreography, students learn about the historical, social, artistic and cultural contexts in which the work was originally created. In addition, students participate in technique classes and theory classes which are designed to equip them with the technical skills and artistic understanding necessary to meet the demands of the piece. The result is a learning experience which integrates theory and practice, and which exposes students both physically and intellectually to dance works of historical and cultural significance.

The Historical Project component at trinity Laban introduces their BA2 students to some of the well-known and established repertoire from the 20th century modern/contemporary dance. In this programme students gain a direct and practical experience of selected choreographer’s work through intensive rehearsals and performance of repertory extracts. The rehearsal directors teach the material to the group, decide the casting and coach students towards the performance. With organised technical rehearsals in the Laban Theatre students showcase the repertory piece they learn over the course of 4 weeks in 4 public performances across two days. The performance of the repertory is the final assessment of the practical aspect of this component.

During this period, theoretical sessions are provided with contextual and conceptual background necessary for an integrated understanding of the choreographer and work they are studying. As part of this learning process students are encouraged to reflect on their own experience of the historical repertory, and the ways it contributes to their understanding of the work and its historical and contemporary significance. Material covered in Investigating Arts Practice also support their work in this aspect of the component. Individual Lecture Demonstrations after the performance is the assessment for this aspect of the component.

Sacred Myths

Kartikeya, Himalaya and Apsara

3 segments restaged  in the historical production.

The first piece is Kartikeya which was originally choreographed by Uday Shankar in the early 1940s. This dance was incorporated in his film Kalpana in 1948. References of the Dance can be seen in the film Kalpana (some links on you tube) where Uday Shankar performs this piece with his group of dancers.

The second and third segment are choreographies that are based on Uday Shankar’s Technique with reference to movements created by Uday Shankar. These pieces are choreographed by Tanusree Shankar and restaged with students of Laban by Tanusree Shankar and Protima Chatterjee.

Karthikeya

In Hindu mythology Kartikeya is the God of War.  The Devas(Gods) are in retreat against the predatory force of the Asuras.  It is for protection from the Asuras (personification of evil and greed) that Karthikeya is born.  He is the promised son of Shiva who is born to defeat the Asuras and restore the cosmic balance.  He is fierce and masculine- symbol of martial power and authority. Shankar takes the essence of this warlike god as we see in this dance. It is masculine and powerful which can be performed by both male and female dancers as seen in the popular version performed by him and his group in Kalpana. This composition captures the inner power in us to fight against evil and be triumphant. Fearlessness, valour, courage, positive energy and power put together makes Kartikeya, the epic dance piece that resonates with generations.

Himalaya

Indian mythology confers sacredness to the Himalayas where the Gods reside. Himalaya is also personified as the father of Parvati who gives her in marriage to Shiva. This union leads to the birth of Karthikeya who saves the world. Himalaya is strong yet tranquil. He bestows and sustains life through his waters and forests

The majestic Himalayas, holds a very special place in the sacred geography of Indian imagination. It is the source of the life-giving rivers of the sub-continent and is the space for practicing spirituality for millennia.

In this dance we imagine the Himalayas dancing in spiritual ecstasy. The dance opens with the setting sun and the rhythms of dusk. As the moon rises the Himalayas dance to the moonlight. It’s like the mountain range comes to life at night. There is twinkling moonlight broken occasionally by thunder or lightning.  Whether it is calm or unsettled, the Himalayas dance through till the break of dawn and goes back to deep contemplation. It is day and the sparkling rivers flow, the birds sing and everything is serene. This composition shows two aspects of the mind-reposeful meditation and playful expression which balances life.

Apsara

This dance evokes the celestial dancers-the Apsaras, who perform for the gods. Celebrating the triumph of the Devas over the Asuras, this piece symbolises victory of the human mind over fear and material desire.

The cave paintings, temple carvings and statues of Apsaras and dancing figures found throughout India were always a source of inspiration for Uday Shankar. He used this material to create the base of his movements.  “Apsara” is a homage to this heritage. Its movements are taken from Shankar’s inspirations around motifs found in traditional Indian Art. This choreography beautifully demonstrates layers of movement gestures that are part of Uday Shankar’s repertoire.

The Heritage of Uday Shankar Anna Pavlova

An Abundant Art project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund


  • Focusing on the iconic collaboration between dance pioneer Uday Shankar and Prima Ballerina Anna Pavlova and its impact on dance heritage.
  • Researching, recording, informing, creating and sharing key elements of this heritage.
  • Producing oral histories, workshops, exhibitions and documentary film involving universities, schools, community groups, libraries and public venues.

About Uday Shankar and Anna Pavlova

Uday Shankar (1900-1977) was a legendary Indian dancer, choreographer and film maker who pioneered a new technique of Indian contemporary dance. Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) was a prima Ballerina famous for her performance as and in” The Dying Swan” and for being the first ballerina (with her own company) to do a world tour of ballet. Their path breaking partnership gave us a heritage that opened a whole new world of creative collaboration across cultures- For the first time in modern history two dancers from completely diverse cultural civilizational backgrounds understood the value of each other’s heritage and co- created while always respecting the other’s culture without compromising the authenticity of their own styles.

Uday Shankar is the Indian dance pioneer who created a dance style that is invaluable in its intercultural philosophy of capturing the essence of Indian dance movements in a contemporary framework. His dance technique is a creative process which is all embracing- movements, music, costumes and stage craft to present an Indian dance experience for audiences in the west starting in the early 19th century. One of the first Indian cultural ambassadors of multi-cultural and artistic synthesis to connect with artists and audiences in the UK and worldwide. He created a new genre of Indian dance outside the classical sensibilities and was the forerunner of an ideology that was far ahead of his times-globalisation and multiculturalism through art. Shankar took the essence from various forms of Indian classical and folk dance, statues and paintings and merged them in a movement format that evolved into a contemporary dance form maintaining the Indian aesthetics.

Pavlova performed many ‘ethnic’ dances, some of which she learned from local teachers during her travels. In addition to the dances of her native Russia, she performed Mexican, Japanese, and East Indian dances. It was from here that her collaboration with Uday Shankar started. Supported by her interest, Uday Shankar, her partner in Krishna Radha (1923), went on to revive the long-neglected art of dance in his native India.

Had there been no Anna Pavlova, there would perhaps not be an Uday Shankar, the dance pioneer. And with no Uday Shankar Indian Dance would not have had an early exposure in the World stage or

seen a new genre of contemporary Indian dance format that captures the essence of western cultural sensibilities of stagecraft, light, costume design which was an integral part of the newly formed Uday Shankar technique that made it hugely popular across nations and set Indian dance on the world stage permanently. Or we would not have had dance introduced in Indian cinema in the 1930s which has popularly evolved and taken a more modern and contemporary form today.

The first Indian contemporary movement format that Uday shankar created will be studied, reimagined and recreated across the community through workshops and activities in schools and universities. The activities will include understanding and learning new movements in dance practice and how an idea can be developed to creatively evolve in a dance movement, individually or in a group. The project will involve valuable new learning about cultural collaboration through the lens of Uday Shankar-Anna Pavlova partnership. The outcome of these activities will be shared across public venues along with the oral history narratives where the community at large can be informed about the first cultural exchange and artistic collaboration between the East and the West, the legacy of Uday Shankar and its relevance in Indian dance today and the history of Indian contemporary dance dating back to 1920s.

The Uday Shankar dance style creatively connects cultures, communities and inspires innovation. His dance partnership with Anna Pavlova, the Prima Ballerina from the west continues to be a shining model of practice where artists from distinct and diverse cultural backgrounds came together in a creative synergy.

This collaborative process is part of a research and heritage project by Abundant Art UK led by Protima Chatterjee, supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund. Our participating partners are Sampad-South Asian Arts and Heritage, Tinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and Roehampton University.