Terence Lewis: Want to explore the flavours of India through Contemporary dance

Choreographer Terence Lewis speaks about the second edition of his Contemporary dance festival, and his mantra for dance

In between judging the Indian edition of a popular international dance reality show, choreographer Terence Lewis is busy chalking out the details of the second edition of The Jugnee Indo-Contemporary Dance Festival that begins today. The second edition of the festival is going to be even more exhaustive and cohesive, with workshops for professional dancers by international artistes such as David Zambrano, Joe Alegado and others. The festival has partnered with Viennese Contemporary dance festival Impulstanz as well.

Terence Lewis
Terence Lewis

"Last year, we had beginners dropping by for the advance workshops too. So, this season, we are looking at CVs, as well as a short introductory video from folks interested in the workshops," shares Lewis in between rehearsal at his Khar studio, adding, "Through this festival, we want to explore the flavours of India through Contemporary dance techniques. That is how we can take it to the world. Internationally, these workshops cost lakhs, but here you get to learn for Rs 3,000 or Rs 4,000, and without having to travel around the world."

Workshops for beginners include Kallari Contemporary by Nakula Somana, Prana Paint and Flow by Ashley Lobo, Chauu Contemporary by Santosh Nair and Contamination — a combination of yoga and Contemporary dance by Lewis.

"Contamination is based on the principle of energy flow and how to uses your breath. The rise and falls of the breath patterns are similar in yoga and dance. When you do yoga, you do a pose and hold it; in this workshop, we will merge it seamlessly," explains Lewis. There will also be a movie screening (Café Muller by Pina Bausch) and a panel discussion (in association with India Foundation for the Arts), Unraveling the Contemporary, with Ashavari Majumdar,
Jyoti Dogra and Anuradha Venkataraman about their careers.

Labour of love
One of the performances of the festival that Lewis is proud of will be by Rahul Goswami, who won the Emerging Artist Award at the previous edition of the festival. Bangalore-based dance company, Attakkalari will present Meidhwani, and Lewis will direct The Kamshet Project, which he adds, was a result of a lab experiment. "The dancers were placed under house arrest in Kamshet for seven days where they didn't dance but expressed their inner feelings through art and music. This closed environment brought out the inner child, pain and fear, which translated to a fresh, raw personal energy. As an artiste, for a new piece, we are worried of not being honest on stage. We didn't want to fake and re-produce something done before," Lewis explains.

The dancing stars
Lewis is a veteran when it comes to judging reality dance shows, just like many others of his ilk. "Dance and music always held a respectful place in India; our kings would call artistes the 'ratna' of their court. When the British arrived here with their Victorian thoughts, they shamed our arts into being entertainment. Likewise, on TV too, earlier, there was only Boogie Woogie, and people didn't look at dance as an art form but entertainment. Today, with so many shows, the audience gets to see the focus, pain and hard work that goes behind dancing. It is like bhakti (devotion). Hence, it has found respect," feels Lewis.

Need of the hour
Lewis feels that Indian dancing will benefit from freedom from traditional set up. "With all due respect to our mahagurus, I wish that they would teach the students a voice of their own too, and not just what has been taught to them. We need to liberate from the structure, parampara and provoke the audience with our personal interpretation of dance to stand out. Look at Akram Khan and Shobhana — what great work! Today, the borders of countries are becoming insignificant when it comes to dance. There is a Bollywood round in every international dance show. We cannot be bigots when it comes to dance," Lewis signs off.

Dates Today till May 1
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Lewis' favourites

Favourite venue
Any open space, surrounded by nature, by a river or a waterfall. Also a lift, a busy airport or inside a train would be a great place to dance.

Dream dance partners

Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai and Deepika Padukone

Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai and Deepika Padukone.

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