US troupe urges peace thru dance

Cultural Correspondent | Published: 17:55, Jan 28,2018 | Updated: 14:15, Jan 29,2018

Battery Dance Company

Battery Dance Company artistes present a dance recital at National Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on Saturday. — New Age photo

The New York City-based Battery Dance Company urged for peace and tolerance through experimental dance performances presented on Saturday at National Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.

The troupe comprised of dancers of different cultures and colours—three white American females, two Afro-American males and a guest Indian dancer— staged recitals titled ‘Shakti’, ‘Terra and Astra’, and ‘Observatory’ to reflect the late Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi’s desire to secure a culture of peace, tolerance and non-violence, reads the brochure distributed by the US embassy, Dhaka, which sponsored the show along with the US department of state’s bureau of educational and cultural affairs and Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.  

As Battery Dance Company performed in Dhaka as part of its Bangladesh and India tour, the dance recitals presented by the troupe, except for its final presentation, fused Indian and western classical dance genres such as bharatnatyam and ballet. 

Prior to the show, the US ambassador Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat and Battery Dance Company founding president Jonathan Hollander highlighted the importance of cultural exchange programmes to ease tensions and to establish peace.

The troupe’s first presentation Shakti, a 25-minute performance composed and choreographed by Jonathan Hollander, created a serene ambiance with smoke, silhouette effect on cyclorama and movements of the six dancers with the enigmatic music composed by Indian musicians Rajan and Sajan Mishra, Samir Chatterjee and others.

The six dancers, clad with attires like primitive people, designed by Sole Salvo, glorified the peace and harmony in midst of nature through their movements that combined stances of western classical ballet and eastern bharatnatyam and that of goddesses as found in the ancient temples in South Asia.

Peace over crisis was highlighted in two more experimental recitals titled ‘Observatory’, choreographed by Theo Ndindwa, and ‘Terra and Astra’, choreographed by Sean Scantlebury, which were performed by five dancers--Robin Cantrell, Mira Cook, Clement Mensah, Bethany Mitchell and Sean Scantlebury.

Guest Indian dancer Unnath Hassan Ratnaraj, through his bharatnatyam-based solo, depicted destruction of demons. 

In its special guest appearance, local troupe Shadhona presented some parts of Ultraviolet, which glorified union of all colours. ‘We produced Ultraviolet with support from The American Center,’ said Lubna Marium, the artistic director of Shadhona.

The show ended with a ballet-based duet dance recital by Robin Cantrell and Sean Scantlebury synchronised with a cover song titled ‘People Get Ready’ presented by local singer Shwapnil Shojib.

A short trailer of a documentary featuring activities of Battery Dance Company, which in the past 42 years performed in 62 countries with the aim to build bridges worldwide through cultural exchange, was also screened at the programme organised for the invited guests.

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