In the run up to Balbir Singh Dance Company’s Double Bill in December, the climax of our Autumn/Winter season in 2017 here at Kala Sangam, we worked in partnership with the company to deliver engagement projects around the Bradford District. Contemporary dancer Kimberly Hardy and Kathak dancer Sanchita Mazumdar from BSDC worked with children and young people from two diverse primary schools and Community Works in Barkerend over five weeks, to create dance pieces inspired by the themes of Champion of the Flatlands and Love & Spice.

We worked with the two Year 3 classes in Allerton Primary School, and the dance sessions were put in instead of their normal PE lessons. The first session Kim and Sanchita introduced elements of both contemporary and Indian Kathak dance, and they began to look at the themes of Champion of the Flatlands and Love & Spice. Over the course of the project the two classes worked on contemporary and Kathak movements and expressing the ideas of cycles and circles in both styles, each class learned different choreography but worked on the same themes of cycles and wheels. These themes are echoed throughout Champion of the Flatlands with contemporary movements mirroring the movement of the bicycle, and circular movements and patterns are characteristics of the Kathak style.

At Nessfield Primary School in Keighley the sessions with Kim and Sanchita were offered as an after school dance club to Years 5 and 6. Like Allerton, Nessfield’s first session was an introduction to the two dance styles, and the two dance pieces by BSDC. The young people at Nessfield were really interested in the ‘cooking dance’ and Sanchita’s kathak movements influenced by Love & Spice. Kim showed the group how to create movements similar to the kathak but with a western contemporary twist. As these children were older than the groups at Allerton, their piece included a section of independent group work, duets and solos where pupils were encouraged to create their own phrases of movement inspired by the ideas and movements Kim and Sanchita had been working on with them.

On Thursday 7th December Balbir Singh Dance Company were in rehearsal, and the two schools came together here at Kala Sangam to share the work that they had created with Kim and Sanchita with each other and the professional company. Each group were fantastic, and performed with enthusiasm and lots of energy. The children were very excited by each other’s performances and how each group had interpreted the same ideas and movements in different ways, so each dance piece was completely unique. They also had the chance to watch the professional musicians rehearse, and were treated to a Kathak demonstration by company dancer Abirami Eswar.

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At Community Works in Barkerend our dance workshops were part of the Monday evening open activities. We worked for five weeks with six young people. Their piece was choreographed using inspiration from the urban feel of Champion of the Flatlands and interspersed with Kathak phrases which complemented or was a contrast to the contemporary movements. The young people also had the chance to create extended pieces of their own choreography; they applied what they had learned from Kim and Sanchita and combined this with their own creativity and imagination. At Community Works Kim and Sanchita were able to work more in depth with this group so the group worked on technique, spatial awareness and performativity and were able focus on the finer details with the young people to perfect this piece.

The young people from Community Works performed as part of the Double Bill on Saturday 16th December, their piece opened the second half after Champion of the Flatlands. This worked really well as the audience saw how they were inspired by some of the movements in Champion of the Flatlands and the themes of fusing urban and traditional cultures and dance styles. Many of their friends and family came to support them, and their performance was fantastic – especially as many of them had never danced before. Each of the young people grew so much over the course of the project at Community Works and we are hoping to continue to work with them in the new year.

Marianne Matusz

Education and Outreach Officer

Categories: General News

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