Dancing Connections | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 12, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 12, 2017

Arts Gaze

Dancing Connections

Bangladesh participates in World Dance Global Summit 2017

Since August 2009 Bangladesh has been part of the Asia Pacific Region of the World Dance Alliance which 'serves as a primary voice for dance and dancers throughout the world'. Every three years a Global Summit witnesses one of the largest gathering of dancers from the world over. This year the Summit was held in Newfoundland, from July 23 – 28, 2017, in Canada, with participation from countries as far and apart as Japan, Cuba, and India, amongst others. The fact that 8 dancers from Bangladesh, selected to present their original choreographies, couldn't obtain Canadian Visas to attend the summit, is a story for another day. Two of us, though did attend. I, as Vice-President for South Asia, was invited to present an academic paper; while Tahmina Anwar Anika, one of Bangladesh's brightest young dancers, now studying at University of York in Canada, did the herculean job of representing Bangladesh with a solo, which was originally choreographed with eight other Bangladeshi dancers.

For the past decade, there has been a conscious 'worlding' of dance, amounting to 'inscribing what was presumed to be uninscribed' (Spivak, 1985a: 243), naturalizing the inclusion of various forms of dances into the world of the critic's text. 'Worlding', first proposed by German philosopher Martin Heidegger, is the process of 'making the world-horizon come near and become local and informed, situated, instantiated as an uneven/incomplete material process of world-becoming'. It recognizes the 'interdependence of humanity with the more-than-human worlds that we are in and part of' (Abram, 1996). 'Worlding' is a creative and critical blend of art and politics that suggests a whole new way to globalize.

Dance in Bangladesh has slowly but surely gained in confidence and maturity. International recognition of the painstaking work by our dancers can only increase opportunities to showcase our work at various world forums.

With the stunningly beautiful Atlantic Ocean shores of Newfoundland as a background, the Summit began with a soulful 'powwow' dance as a tribute to the First Nations people, who are descendants of the original inhabitants of Canada who lived here for many thousands of years before explorers arrived from Europe. 'Powwows' are not a re-enactment of a cultural past. They are the artistic and spiritual expression of an evolving people. All the participating dancers, from the world over, were invited to participate in the dance, immediately imparting a warm hospitable welcome.

Six days of performances, workshops, scholarly discussions, and much more, saw dancers interacting as one corpus of arts and artistes. The presentations varied from the traditional to the contemporary, including several avant-garde choreographies which even dared to bring the nude body on to the stage. Several choreographies touched the heart with the historicity on which they were based, such as a duet called 'The Lenon Project' featuring the philosophies of John Lenon, choreographed by Melonie Murray. Teaching at the University of Utah, Murray enjoys inculcating critical thinking in her students. As a choreographer, she is particularly interested in pushing the boundaries of ballet and exploring ways in which to communicate complex concepts and social critique through movement.

In contrast 'Karuta Game', once again a duet, choreographed by innovative Japanese choreographer Hiroki Koba, was a masterful performance based on a Japanese traditional game in which two players race to grab cards associated with a given reading. Through a clever intermingling of traditional Japanese moves and popular retrograde ditties, the audience was taken through the entire works of unspoken negotiation, cheating, and getting the best of the 'other'. Talking to Koba, it was interesting to learn that both martial arts and dance are mandatory subjects within the education curriculum of Japanese schools. Koba himself was influenced by his exposure to dance at an early age.

A new addition to the presentation was 'The Digital Dance Concert' which presented videoed choreographies and dance films created specifically for the camera. 

It was certainly a privilege to be part of this vibrant forum of dancers and we do hope for an increase of participation by dancers from Bangladesh in the near future.

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