Marina Collard shares some reflections on her time at the Gati Summer Dance Residency in New Delhi.
"Dancers are wonderfully generous people"
I was invited to mentor six choreographers who were part of the Gati Summer Dance Residency in New Delhi. It was a ten-week project where a number of different mentors work with the resident choreographers for different amounts of time and in different ways. I worked with the residents the last three weeks of the residency, leading up to performances at the Max Muller Bevan Gallery.
Every morning, I ran classes open to the wider dance community and really enjoyed sharing my practice. The dancers were very open to exploring movement through careful attention to the body and responded really well to my class. I felt that what I offered was very readily able to be absorbed and integrated into their own practice and interests.
I performed a solo work I made in collaboration with film maker Tom Paine at the British Council Theatre. The public performance was well attended and well received. Mandeep Raikhy, the Artistic Director of Gati Dance, chaired a discussion with me about my work and opened this out to questions from the audience. He had set a clear context for the questions, which were very pertinent and interesting. The choreographers involved in the residency came, and it felt important to have the opportunity to share our work, rather than me only be in the role of scrutinising and supporting the furthering of their work.
The main thing I found was that dancers are wonderfully generous people the world over. Because of the nature of what we do, there is a fundamental need to work together and share our experience. It is how we work. We spend time together in the studio developing our work, sometimes alone but more often together. If we are creating choreography, we necessarily need dancers to embody and facilitate the vision for the work. We are reliant on a collaborative working method. I found the dancers and choreographers in India to be open, curious and a joy to work with.
While I am writing this, I am in the south of France, near Marseille, for a festival. The work I am showing is for four dancers, and we are being given space to rehearse and work in return for delivering a number of workshops to support the ongoing development of dance in the region. There is a strong sense of value in dance education and a keen interest in integrating professional dance practitioners to work closely with the existing dance community here.
I would always be interested in going back to Gati Dance in Delhi and other cities in India, too. I would really like to collaborate with one of the composers I met, also working as a mentor for the Gati Summer Dance Residency and make a work with the dancers there. I found them interesting to work with.