A artiste from Washington showcases his brand of fusion dance at Kalakshetra.
BEST known for interweaving the ornate nuances of Bharatanatyam into modern dance, Washington-based choreographer and dancer Daniel Phoenix Singh is coming to the city with his troupe to perform Sangamam—The Confluence, a three-piece syncretic act. Ahead of his performance, he speaks to us about his artistic journey, India’s contemporary dance scene and more.
“Confluence is a root idea in my dance—whether it is with the audience or with dance forms, the ultimate goal is to make and sustain human connections,” says Singh, who spearheads Dakshina, a 13-year-old dance company in DC. His signature fusion of the two dance forms is reflective of his own life as someone who treasures both his Indian and US identities. Expect specks of poetry, literature, and theater, as the three-act show opens with Chakra, which draws from the stories of how the metaphor serves as a theme in the life of Subhadra (a mythical character in the Indian epic, Mahabharata). The September Sonnet is a modern dance piece choreographed by the late iconic dancer Anna Sokolow. The closing act, Tulsi, explores why women are often pawns in the battles between men and gods. “My biggest interest lies in connecting dance to the audience. I don’t think dance can exist in a vacuum,” says Singh, who will be performing with a lineup of about 12 dancers.
Dash of hip-hop
“The artistes working in traditional styles have been charting new grounds in their own work. So the lines between traditional and contemporary are blurring,” says Singh, who sought training for Bharatanatyam under Vannadil Pudiyaveettil and Shanta Dhananjayan in the city. He goes on to speak about promoting the art form in the country. “I’m hopeful that this interest transfers into the artistic pursuits as well and doesn’t just remain as entertainment,” he adds. Inspired by artistes like Leela Samson, Indira Kadambi and Pamela Mathews, Singh has explored a varied palette of styles. Next up, he looks to infuse Tango into his dance form. The choreographer will also be seen tabling a hip-hop workshop with the city-based Swinger’s Dance Company. “It will be a fun and interactive class, where the dancers can learn hip-hop and elements that make it unique,” he says.
Sangamam on November 21. At Kalakshetra, 7 pm onwards. Hip-hop workshop on November 22, 10 am to 12 pm.
—Sruthi Ganapathy Raman