Phil Williams - Cascade India - 2014

Williams, Phil 07/01/2014

Phil Wiliiams/ Cascade India

Phil Williams received support to work with Delhi based Danceworx contemporary dance company to research and start initial development of a new collaborative dance piece and to develop a schools based project in Goa.

Following the visit, Phil said:

"This project enabled me as an artist to develop partnerships I had made in previous projects in Delhi as well as to create new collaborative projects for the future. There were 4 main strands to my visit.

First, a period of personal R and D into India, the people and the culture in order to inform and enhance the cultural exchange. During part of the trip I travelled over two thousand kilometres, visiting cultural events, Tibetan enclaves, sacred and spiritual shrines, art and cultural areas and small rural communities. This immersion in lifestyle and culture served to inform me on my role as cultural ambassador for Wales.

The main focus of the project was to develop the connection between my self as Artistic Director of cascade Dance Theatre and The Danceworx. During my time with the company I had a period of R and D for a possible future work and commission from Danceworx. Following this R and D, I set up an evening meet the artist. Here I presented the work in progress alongside a piece my by one of their company dancers and a photographic presentation by Roy Campbell-Moore. It was a first for The Danceworx Company, allowing the audience to see the process of creating work and open a dialogue and discussion between the artist and the public. This is a process the wish to continue in the future. I feel this style of event has an important role to play in the developing future of contemporary dance in India.

During my time with The Danceworx I also taught their community classes and master classes, as with everywhere it is the young dancers of the community that are the future of contemporary dance in this very new but rapidly developing genre. Teaching these classes also gave me a greater understanding of the company structure at Danceworx.

Following this I spent a short time at Shiksha Niketan School, Goa. Architect Gerard de Cunha had designed the school out of recycled materials and purpose built a school that would stimulate, entertain and educate its pupils. In the four-day visit I worked with forty of the pupils to create a new site-specific work around the amazing spaces of the school building itself. Through a series of creative workshops, challenging the staff and pupils of how to see and use different spaces as inspiration for movement, we created a promenade performance that was open to the public. The finale taking place on the rooftop stage at the school. The photographs taken of the process and performance are now hung in and around the school so the short visit has a legacy for the staff pupils and families. This intensive process was initially for the young pupils, however the staff and teachers had an insight into working in new creative and challenging way in the contemporary dance genre. This way of working will surely continue in this amazing forward thinking school. Whilst in Goa I also had time to visit Omaggio. A "western" run contemporary training school for dancers from all over India. The company itself is in its very early stages. I have been asked to teach there, in fact it was a shame my time in Goa was so short.

In addition to my initial project plan, I was invited to spend a week at The Danceworx, Mumbai with its Director, Ashley Lobo. The same working schedule was set up as in Delhi. Here the dancers I worked with were a little refined technically. Living and working in Mumbai also gave them a greater cultural knowledge. Mumbai is almost Western in comparison to many parts of India. Again I embarked on a transfer of skills, technique, choreographic ideas, movement vocabulary and making work. During my week there I had developed a short piece, which I have left with them to develop further with the possibility to perform it later in the year. Again I taught community classes, transferring skills to the grass routes level of contemporary dance in Mumbai.

Whilst in Mumbai I managed to visit Dharavi, one of the biggest slums in Asia, and the heart of Mumbai. Here I met a company, Reality Gives, an NGO that runs all sorts of classes and events within the slum, funded by the profits from its sister organisation, Reality Tours.

During the tour I managed to see how different cultures mixed, Hindus and Muslims working together. I also learnt that do dance and drama classes, howeer these were held on a Sunday, the day I was leaving. Again I have been invited back to work with the people who love in the slums.

After this is was back to Delhi. Here I had a little extra time in the studio to re-work and develop ideas that I had worked on leading up to the "meet the artist event. I also had the chance to meet the organisers of Delhi Art Week to discuss future collaboration.

The support I received from Wales Arts International was used to cover my expenses, flights, visa, accommodation, travel and subsistence. Having this help I was able to travel and meet many Indian Artists, as well as artists currently practising in India. As I see my presence in India to be long term I feel it is important to do the groundwork by immersing myself in its culture and history. Understanding this will help to develop the new ideas and new genres of dance. The grant from WAI ensured my expenses were covered so I could therefor work for a very subsidised rate, in order to maximise potential for future partnerships. Finances for art outside the Bollywood culture are scarce out in India. The companies and schools I met and worked with simply do not have the funds to pay commissioning rates on par with the UK or Europe. Without the funding from WAI it simply would not have been possible for any part of my visit to have taken place."

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