One Earth Rotation-a day in dance with SBDC
When it comes to arts in lockdown, all artists have pushed themselves beyond their comfort zone into the precarious world of technology. Topping in scale and ambition is the vision of Sujata Banerjee renowned Kathak dancer, choreographer and teacher who is running a 26-hour non-stop virtual dance marathon this weekend.
Dance Synergy is envisaged as an event to celebrate diversity, and in keeping with this will be presenting a mindboggling 50 + performances from across six continents and 20 different dance styles. Over the course of the event, audiences will travel around the globe starting from the UK to South and North Americas, across Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe, before returning to the UK for the finale performance.
Diversity is inbuilt into the event’s vision as it transitions seamlessly between some of the most popular artists and dance styles such as Mavin Khoo and Rukmini Vijayakumar (bharatnatyam), Mark Morris (modern) and Saswati Sen (kathak), and internationally lesser known but equally worthy dancers and dance forms such as Surya Pradhantha (Balinese dance), Wahab Shah (Tribal and Sufi) and the Guarani Tenodera Choir (Brazilian indigenous dance) all on one digital platform.
Says Sujata Banerjee: “Diversity is something that we talk about a lot, but I wanted to see it in action. It is something I strongly believe in. Putting together this ambitious event has been so interesting – dealing with not just varied dance styles but different cultures, practices and time zones! I am really excited for us to watch so many brilliant artists lifting our spirits through that one common factor – dance!”
Curating 26 hours of programming is not for the faint-hearted and Sujata’s extensive international network and past travels has definitely come in handy. While some of the participating artists have been on her speed dial, most have required investigative research and tracking down. One of her mantras was to not just fill the programme with those easy to access but rather go for the often hidden gems in far flung areas and bring them to the fore. And the melting pot of the final line up suggests this has been a worthwhile effort.
A champion of healthy dancing, it is easy to see why the idea of a physically challenging dance marathon would excite Sujata. She has previously organised a 13-hour Kathak danceathon, but this of course was in the real and not virtual world. The online nature of the project has added a technical dimension for both organisers and artists which is still fairly unchartered territory, and the event has a 20-people strong tech team to support it.
In fact, a project of this scale requires meticulous planning at all levels and the team has been working tirelessly behind the scenes over months. The international nature of the undertaking has necessitated a global team to deliver it too, and once again this has been achieved through Sujata’s worldwide pool of students, dancers and teachers who she has been mentoring for years. The team meetings are a melange of morning and night greetings as people join in from different parts of the world, adding to the fun and eclectic nature of the event!
In addition to this vision of presenting diversity and the physical challenge of non-stop dancing, one of the key elements of Dance Synergy is to ensure all participants gets paid for their performance. This is an important principle, at a time when a lot of artists have seen their earnings dwindle.
We say this often, but Dance Synergy is a truly unique event, ambitious in its scale and admirable in its aims. It could only take a passionate orchestrator such as Sujata Banerjee to conceive and a whole village to raise and deliver. And as we note, that is both metaphorically and literally true in this case.
Dance Synergy will take place from 4pm BST on Saturday 22 August to 6pm BST on Sunday 23 August. Find out more about the performance line up at : www.sbdc-kathak.com/synergy.
You can watch Dance Synergy on Sujata Banerjee Dance Company’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/sbdcuk.
You can also participate in a range of workshops being taught in parallel to the performances. Book at: www.sbdc-dancesynergy.eventbrite.co.uk.