Danz Lenz: Festival of Dance for the Camera
- Arshiya Sethi, Delhi
February 5, 2006
For long the lens of the eye had been the most powerful lens recording Dance. The eye stimulated the pen, the brush and the chisel and for several millennia, dance was captured in figurines, bas-relief, sculptures and painting.
In modern times the methods of visually recording dance increased and an additional lens came into play - the lens of a camera. In India its historiography included:
1. Photograph - In the late 19th century we came across the earliest images of dance captured through another lens- through the lens of the camera. This record small and sporadic by itself, however is not reflective so much of dance as of the dancer.
2. Cinema - With the coming of cinema to India, the early 20th century, and the fact that cinematic aesthetic made each film operate in look, the camera lens once came to the fore to record Indian dance's moving images. Dance at this stage was treated merely as a step up for the film. It got fore grounded in the cinematic medium with Uday Shankar's "Kalpana" but it has remained pretty much the leader of a very small pack.
3. Television -The next big development was with the coming of Television in the decade of the sixties, and the governmental policy of showcasing classical and folk dance on the small screen. Once again - the lens - this time of the television camera - came to the fore. The nearly three decades of programming under the National Programmes of Dance and Music that was achieved, is one of the most seminal collections of Dance with an eye to the camera.
4. Documentation Efforts - This body of work differs significantly from the documentation oriented filming that was actioned by organizations like the Sangeet Natak Akademi, five decades ago. These recordings had the lens of the camera focused on the authentic and objectively captured the cultural environment, rather than become a contributor to enhanced impact of Dance.
There is a need to understand the dynamics of dance and the lens. A need to recognize the power of both mediums, a need to evaluate the multiple roles of a lens- as voyeur, as a dispassionately seeing eye, as a part of dance politics, as a perpetrator of gender stereotypes and as a performer by itself.
To understand how both, the dance and the lens need each other and augment each other in increasing geographical spread in subtle layering and nuances of meaning and movement.
The Danz Lenz Festival has been planned for the 11th, 12th and the 13th of February in Delhi. We plan to make it an annual event in subsequent years - as a creative and artistic collaboration of Art Vision and Kri Foundation. Films to be screened are of various duration and from across the world. All have one thing in common - they are all about Dance. This makes it one of the most unique creations of dance on the one hand and of the genre of film making on the other.
Art vision was created in 1996 by dancer, scholar and author Dr. Ileana Citaristi along with a group of artists belonging to different disciplines such as dance, painting, cinema and literature who wanted to have a common ground for sharing experiences and creative ideas. During these years Art Vision has already conducted several events, which reflect its multi-disciplinary nature.
Dance critic and scholar Arshiya Sethi created The Kri Foundation in August 2003 as a proactive force in the Indian arts to facilitate the twin processes of retaining the smell of the earth in the arts, while linking them to the fabric of world arts. The aim at Kri Foundation is to understand the creative process, celebrate the creation and see the linkages between different creative processes, each as valid, relevant and enriching as the other.