‘Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.’ I am reminded of this beautiful quote by Rumi when I spoke with Swapnil Dagliya. Swapnil is the creative director of an enchanting contemporary dance festival called Avayava. This dance festival, which brings artists from different corners of the world has become quiet an important element of Pune’s cultural landscape. Swapnil and his team are hosting the fifth edition of this festival from April 7-10 of April in multiple parts of Pune. We spoke with Swapnil, who has learned his skills from top dance schools in New York and Italy. He has learned his skills of being a dance instructor from choreographers of the famous dance reality show of USA, ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. Excerpts…
What is Contemporary Dance and why do you think this form of dance has become popular in India?
It is quiet a task to describe contemporary dance in a few words. For me, it is ‘poetry in motion’. This very expressive form of dance connects to the audience in a very personal way. As this form of dance is very inclusive and adaptable. Contemporary dance doesn’t have a rigid format, which has helped its evolution over time. I guess this form of dance has been able to reflect the times we live in, introduce varieties and has also been able to combine different types of art.
Swapnil and his team are hosting the fifth edition of this festival from April 7-10 of April in multiple parts of Pune.
In India, in recent times, there has been lot of awareness about this format of dance. The credit goes to popular dance reality shows and Bollywood movies. However, I have to highlight that the contemporary dance taught at a lot of dance schools across India has much scope for improvement. I believe India has the potential to produce some of the best contemporary dancers.
Tell us about your journey as a dancer.
Dancing is next to breathing for me. I have acquired most of my skills at Broadway Dance Centre in New York City and Opus Ballet in Italy. I have had some amazing experiences when I underwent teacher training workshops with Pulse Faculty (who are the choreographers in the show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’). I must mention that I gained deep insights about dancing at the critically acclaimed Pilabolus Dance theatre/company.
All these marvellous learnings and experiences have helped me set up my dance school in Pune. I have been running my dance school, SPACE Studios, for past seven years in the city.
Let’s talk about Avayava-2016, the Contemporary Dance Festival. What has been your motivation and why Pune?
I have been fortunate in attending lot of dance festivals across the world. Dance festivals have a scintillating atmosphere. One gets to learn new forms of dances, interact with international artists, watch dance-based movies and of course, watch splendid dance performances.
Pune doesn’t have any Contemporary Dance festivals at this large a scale and I thought of taking the initiative. Today, after four years of organising Avayava in Pune, I can proudly mention that somehow this inclusive dance festival has been able to add some layer to culture fabric of this historic city.
I think that’s the beauty of contemporary dance. It is very inclusive and inspiring.
Can you tell us how someone who has no knowledge of dance can enjoy and understand this festival?
I think that’s the beauty of contemporary dance. It is very inclusive and inspiring. A person with no knowledge about dance can gain tremendous insights at the fest. One can experience beautiful workshops conducted by international artists, watch some exclusive movies on dance and of course, get to watch some spell-binding performances. Apart from insights on dance, Avayava also gives a great platform for cultural exchanges. We have people not only from different parts of the country who attend this festival but also people from different corners of the world.
If you can convert any of the historical places in Pune into a stage, which place would that be and what kind of performance will you choreograph?
Now, that is an interesting question! Pune has such beautiful landmarks that one can be spoilt for choice. If I have to pick one historical spot that would be the Shaniwarwada Fort. The rivers Mula and Mutha also merge in the same area. So for me this central part of the city is apt to perform and tell a story, which merges our Indian and Western cultures as we all know that art has no boundaries.