The vibrant Afro-disiac form of dance
- Sulagna Mukhopadhyay
Photos courtesy: Sapphire

October 10, 2013

Sapphire Quarterly Art Series welcomed Joanne Joria, the new Director, American Centre, with a performance by members of Sapphire and the choreographer Darryl Thomas. Darryl, a dancer, choreographer and artistic director of Rainbow Dance Theatre (RDT) spent three weeks in Kolkata with the dancers of Sapphire. A professor of dance at Western Oregon University, Darryl combines the athleticism of West African dance with Pilobolus styled or contemporary modern dance partnering. The images are drawn from nature and combine dancers into partnering configurations of duets, trios and quartets.

Slide show

On September 20, the evening began with Darryl Thomas explaining his dance technique and three videos were shown in support of his choreographic vision. Darryl spoke to his audience on the history of African dance. This was followed by his introducing the various forms of dance that he worked with in the residency for Sapphire company members and school students starting with Hula dance from Hawaii then continuing to the Latin salsa form, Casino Rueda where he himself performed with Sapphire dancers.

Darryl Thomas then spoke about ‘improvisation’ as a technique, something that Sapphire dancers use as a basic tool for movement creation and how he has worked in contact improvisation detail into this. Two dancers then showed a short improvised piece based on contact and weight sharing techniques. The final piece was a salsa number to which the dancers swayed their bodies according to the counting of the instructor. The audience was fascinated by this number. The evening concluded with Darryl answering questions from the audience and a vote of thanks by Sudarshan Chakravorty, the artistic director of Sapphire.

Sulagna Mukhopadhyay was trained in Bharatanatyam by Guru Thankamani Kutty and Indian folk by Late Botu Pal. She has an M.A. in Comparative Literature and has freelanced for various leading newspapers of Kolkata like The Telegraph, The Statesman and Ananda Bazar Patrika. She has written articles on dance and gender issues. She is a teacher of South Point School since 1996.