Disability Mere Social Construct for UK Dance Co on India Tour

For dancers it is commonplace to leap up twirl, pirouette and swirl during stage recitals but that is not what you come to expect from wheel-chair bound or other physically challenged performers.

However, shows from the Candoco dance company, a leading professional contemporary troupe from the UK, fluidly integrates the disabled into choreographies, several of which were performed in Kolkata, Chennai and the national capital as part of its India tour to celebrate its silver jubilee.

Nrityagram Dance Ensemble,  perform ALAP, photo Nan Melville
Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, perform ALAP, photo Nan Melville

The group recently presented here a duet ‘Studies for C’ composed by award-winning choreographer Javier de Frutos and inspired by Tennessee Williams’ play ‘Camino Real’ and Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ depicting a couple trapped in a stagnating relationship.

Mirjam Gurtner, a dancer with Candoco says the troupe works inclusively with the physically challenged to obtain best results.

“We have both disabled and non-disabled dancers, we invite renowned choreographers to work with us and our focus is on creating bold and innovative art” she said.

252c7b1db58325b2a35e1239aa03951a56af9b7b“We enjoyed both performances and workshops, the audience was warm and sincere. They have an appetite to connect, dancers, teachers and children came to watch us,” Gurtner said.

For ‘Studies with C’ the dancers used Mexican wrestling masks and ranchera music by Lila Downs to underpin the emotional power play of the dance.

The costumes, designed by de Frutos, feature the writings of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, who famously said, ‘I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.’

For Gurtner, performing with different choreographers helps the dancers learn diverse dance forms and reflects in their performance.

Dan Dou, a dancer with Candoco for the past 6 years says the platform is of great help for performers who are disabled to “come out of the feeling of being trapped and to utilise our energy in something significant.”

“I love performing with the company. The company is like home to me. I am happy with the response in India and I would like to visit again” Dou said.
The dancer said visiting different places offered a great

opportunity to showcase his caliber.

“We have been to China, France, Nigeria and other regions too, it offers a great experience” he said.

For programme and touring producer, Marrianne Mogendroff who joined Candoco Dance in June 2015, disability is a mere social construct.

“The concept of our work is simple, I believe people are disabled by barriers within society, rather than being victims of their impairments or conditions. I believe disability is a social construct, it is about how we set up the world and that is what we are trying to change” she said.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Candoco to forge new links across India and to give audiences a chance to experience our work lives. This visit is just a beginning of our collaboration with venues and artists in India,” she said.

The producer said that they are yet to collaborate with Indian choreographers and they would look to perform in other cities too.

“We haven’t worked with Indian choreographers yet, but I hope we do that soon. My experience in India is great. As a dance company we travel a lot and every place brings a new experience. We work with different choreographers hence we have diversity in what we prepare, so it is brilliant to not have just have one style. My personal highlight would be coming to India,” Mogendroff said.

British Council as a part of its art initiative organised the India tour of Candoco, which has been commissioning world class choreographers to make work for the company for 25 years during which time they toured 59 countries.

Source: Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

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