NEW YORK– Battery Dance, a cultural bridge-builder between the United States and India for the past quarter-century, will perform in five Indian cities in January under the auspices of Indian Council for Cultural Relations and U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.
Sandeep Chakravorty, Consul General of India in New York, will host a reception at the Consulate on January 7th 2018, providing send-off for Battery Dance on the day before the lower Manhattan-based company begins a national tour of India, with performances and workshops in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata and New Delhi.
Battery Dance, founded and directed by Jonathan Hollander in 1976, has been a cultural bridge-builder between the U.S. and India for the past quarter-century. Cross-cultural collaborations have included SONGS OF TAGORE that traversed 17 cities in the Indian subcontinent in 1997 during the 50th Anniversary of Indian Independence; and LAYAPRIYA, which toured six major metro cities in 2001.
Hollander and Battery Dance have presented many of the foremost dancers and musicians of India in New York and on national US tours and annually at its Battery Dance Festival in conjunction with the Indo-American Arts Council, an institution that Hollander co-founded and on whose Board he serves.
The current India tour features SHAKTI: A Return to the Source, previously named The Durga Project, which was premiered as the centerpiece of the Company’s 40th Anniversary Season in New York in 2016 and which subsequently toured the U.S. and Sri Lanka. SHAKTI is a collaboration between Indian classical dancer Unnath Hassan Rathnaraju and the 5 principal dancers of Battery Dance – Robin Cantrell, Mira Cook, Bethany Mitchell, Sean Scantlebury and Clement Mensah. The work was inspired by the rendition of Raag Durga as recorded by the Hindustani master vocalists Rajan & Sajan Mishra who have given special permission to use their recording and who will attend the final performance of the tour in New Delhi.
The Consulate General of India, New York will be a co-sponsor in the company’s 37th Annual Dance Festival which is scheduled for August 2018 to be held in New York City where they will continue their tradition of presenting Indian dance with a special performance on India’s Independence Day, August 15th, 2018.
SCHEDULE OF PERFORMANCES:
Mumbai – January 11, St. Andrew’s Auditorium
Pune – January 13, Yashwantrao Chavan Auditorium
Bangalore – January 20, Ravindra Kalakshetra
Kolkata – January 24, Kala Mandir
New Delhi – January 31, Kamani Auditorium.
Here is the bios of the artists:
Jonathan Hollander, Artistic Director, President, Founder
Hollander is one of the outstanding choreographers of his generation and has taken a leadership role in international cultural exchange and social activism, working in over 70 countries to date. He founded Battery Dance in New York City in 1976 and has choreographed more than 75 works that the Company has presented in major theaters and festivals across six continents. In 1982, he created the Battery Dance Festival, which has since become NYC’s longest-running dance festival and which has introduced New York audiences to dozens of Indian dancers and their ensembles. He has served as Fulbright lecturer on dance in India where he worked with C.V. Chandrasekhar at the M.S. University, Mallika Sarabhai at Darpana and Kumudini Lakhia at Kadamb, with all of whom he has maintained cooperative relationships to this day. He organized national American tours for the Jhaveri Sisters Manipuri Dance, C.V. Chandrasekhar and Nrityashree, Darpana’s Janavak Ensemble, and Purush: Expressions of Man. He has also served as a Fulbright Specialist in Malaysia where he collaborated with Ramli Ibrahim and Sutra Dance as well as ASWARA. He led the initiative to create a new methodology of teaching choreography to young people – Dancing to Connect – which has since spread to over 50 countries. He co-founded the Indo-American Arts Council in New York and continues to serve on its Board of Directors.
Sean Scantlebury, Dancer/Teaching Artist/Choreographer
Scantlebury, a Barbadian-American, has been a member of Battery Dance since 2003, is a performer, choreographer and teacher who is equally adept within the styles of modern, ballet and urban dance. He trained at the New York Public School for Dance and from his teenage years, danced professionally with Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech. He has performed in two previous Battery Dance India tours and conducted a Dancing to Connect program at the Delhi Public School in Srinagar. He has served as a U.S. Arts Envoy to the Dutch Caribbean and choreographed for the Gwanju City Ballet in South Korea, in 2017. Sean was named by Dance.com as one of 15 black dancers who are changing the world, second only to ABT’s Misty Copeland.
Robin Cantrell, Dancer/Teaching Artist/Choreographer
Cantrell is a native of St. Paul, Minnesota. She has performed, choreographed and taught as a member of Battery Dance since 2008. In 2014, she performed in New Delhi, Kolkata and Srinagar, where she conducted Dancing to Connect workshops at Delhi Public School. She has taken part in Battery Dance programs in South America, Asia, Europe and Africa. She previously danced with City Ballet of San Diego, Ballet Deviare, and Rioult; and directs Indelible Dance Company, her own performing arts company, that stages a new production every year in New York City. She holds a BFA in ballet performance and a degree in anthropology from the University of Utah.
Mira Cook, Dancer/Teaching Artist/Choreographer
Cook joined Battery Dance in 2010. She has performed, choreographed and taught for the Company in New York City, on national U.S. tours and overseas in dozens of countries. She conducted a Dancing to Connect program in Badlapur, India, in 2014; and served as a guest artist with Tangaj Dance in Romania the same year. She is a native of Austin, Texas where she studied and performed with Ballet Austin and the Austin Dance Ensemble. She went on to join City Ballet of San Diego and has performed and toured with Liss Fain Dance. Mira is also a singer/composer and has released several solo albums.
Clement Mensah, Dancer/Teaching Artist/ Choreographer
Mensah joined Battery Dance in 2012 and has toured with the Company in many countries including India, where he conducted a Dancing to Connect workshop in Badlapur. A native of Ghana, he moved to the Netherlands where he graduated from Amsterdam School of the Arts. He received a fellowship to the Alvin Ailey School in New York and received an MA degree in Dance Performance at Trinity Laban School of Contemporary Music and Dance in London, Clement is a member of Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group and has also performed with Ronald K. Brown/Evidence and as a guest artist with Limòn.
Bethany Mitchell, Dancer/Teaching Artist/Choreographer
Mitchell is a native of Mission Viejo, California, and joined Battery Dance in 2015 and has performed, choreographed and taught in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America since that time. She has danced with State Street Ballet, City Ballet of San Diego and Liss Fain Dance in San Francisco. After receiving her B.S. in Business Administration from San Francisco State University in 2012, Bethany worked with Royal Caribbean Productions, The Onomatopoeia Theatre Company, and Indelible Dance Company. She teaches creative movement at the Mark Morris Dance Center and Harlem School of the Arts.
Unnath Hassan Rathnaraju, Guest Artist
Rathnaraju is a classically trained Bharatanatyam dancer from Hassan, Karnataka. A disciple of Vidushi Ambale Rajeshwari, he is a post-graduate in both Dance and English Literature, a professional graduate in Dance from the Karnataka State Board, and has performed across India as well as the U.S., Russia, Belarus, Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. A Doordarshan ‘A’ Grade artist, he has won many awards including Natraj Gopi Krishna Samman from Mumbai and Best Season Performer in Pune. He has directed dance ballets and choreographed various repertory in the Mysore school of Bharatanatyam and folk styles. He is the Principal and Artistic Director of Natyakala Nivas, which was awarded the best culture revival center for 2014, Travel Puruskar, Karnataka. He trains more than 150 students, serves as Managing Trustee for Rathnakala Padma Kuteera Trust and is a member of Prayathnam classical dancers in Chennai.
Barry Steele, Lighting and Production Designer/Lecturer
For two decades, Barry Steele has created the lighting and scenic designs for opera, dance, and music productions in the United States and overseas. In addition to designing the lighting and video for Battery Dance’s productions since 1996, he has served as production designer on the Company’s tours of over 25 countries. He has served as a State Department Cultural Envoy in Mongolia; and designed lighting and video for two festivals in Algeria on a grant from the U.S. Embassy. Other important engagements include San Francisco Opera Center, Lucinda Childs Dance Company, Portland Opera, Ballet Stars of Moscow, Nantes Opera and Dardo Galletto Tango Nueva.He has been Resident Lighting Designer for Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and New Jersey Opera Theatre; and has illuminated Bang on a Can All Stars, Queen Esther Marrow and the Harlem Gospel Singers, So Percussion, Alarm Will Sound, the pop noir group Melomane, and DJ Spooky in performances in New York’s Symphony Space, Amsterdam’s Grachtenfestival, Berlin’s Tempodrom, and Vienna’s Volkstheater. He has supported Battery Dance’s arts education residencies and Dancing to Connect programs in the U.S. and overseas as a teacher, mentor and technical advisor.