Intro: In conversation with Ashley Lobo, founder and artistic director of Danceworx, who gives us an insight into the world of dance and how it inspired his life and career
Who and what has inspired you to create Amaara?
Amaara was always a thought in the back of my head. For me, Amaara means nothingness. I am obsessed with the thought of what happens with life after life and I believe we go back to nothing. So Amaara actually talks about nothingness. I don’t think it got inspired by anything. Probably when my father was passing away I started thinking of concept, or the thought of what happens when you go to the other side. I thought you come with nothing and you leave with nothing, and all you’re left with is energy and memories. So memory is stored in an energy, so that to me is Amaara, its nothingness and just energy.
What were the challenges you faced as the first Indian dance company to take contemporary dance production to USA?
Most of the problems we had were logistical because nobody had done it before! For me, taking something overseas was very important to set a precedent that international contemporary dance out of India is on par with anything else overseas and should also be taken overseas and be seen there. The challenges we faced were mostly logistical because in India, international dance is not supported as much as, say let’s say, the national styles or the more colloquial styles, like Indian classic or folk or Bollywood is even more important than international dance. The main challenges are financially in terms of money and of course logistical support in terms of making hotel bookings out there, and auditoriums and how do you sell tickets and stuff like that. We managed somehow by writing to people and whenever you are doing something pioneering it is always a struggle. The dancers slept in sleeping bags, studios stuff like that. The most important thing was to go out and put the show up but it was all worth it because all six cities in all three cities in the U.S. we got standing ovations from dancers from overseas.
Could you please tell us something about the going home project?
The going home project was basically something I started for poorer kids who came from smaller towns. I always believed that, the bigger cities have all the possibilities. The smaller towns do not have the facilities; all they have is there is YouTube. The bigger cities have all the foreign trainers, they have the training and the know-how’s so that idea was to get the kids from smaller towns to give them the opportunity to study in India, and get trained free of cost. The idea was to give them a scholarship where they could not just pay for their dance education but also their stay, their food and a little bit of their travelling.
How do you visualize the dance culture/scenario in the next few years and how is the Danceworx academy going to help?
I see the dance industry changing very dramatically in the next 10 years, I see us having a national ballet company, two or three contemporary arts companies as well known and big as Alvin Alley in America or Batcheva in Israel or NDT from the Netherlands world class in the top ten. I see us occupying this bracket in the next 5 years and that immediately will change the way we here in India see international or contemporary dance because all of a sudden the benchmarking would be very different.
With many dance movies now being widely accepted by Indian audience, do you have any plans of making one by yourself as well?
I am definitely looking at making a film. Most films that I have made have been in the hip hop genre or in the urban genre and that is where Indian dance is at right now, it’s in the urban and street genre. It’s not like that internationally; urban and jazz does not occupy more than 10-20% of the industry and its def. not in the commercial space because it cannot be employed on Vegas unless its specific to that style, or on a ship or on Broadway unless its catering to that kind of style. So what is missing out here is that broad based understanding of dance, so I would make a film which is based on the broad based understanding of dance probably a film that talks about all styles Jazz, Ballet, Contemporary and Urban in that order because, that’s the order it’s in internationally.
‘Amaara’ is happening on the 9th of October at the Contemporary Arts Week in New Delhi and then we are also doing ‘Amaara’ at Mumbai in Manik Sabhagriha at Bandra. For more details you can contact us on 022-65159993 / 94 / 95
Take a sneak peek at Amaara: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOh89brDqeA