Asian Music and Dance

Engaging Audiences

Sanjeevini Dutta gives the rationale behind the soon-to-be-launched Pulse Dance Club, an initiative to attract more audiences to dance events.


n the past half-year Pulse has been experimenting with new and exciting ways to facilitate exchanges between artists and audiences. Based on the notion that we can create new dance viewers by taking away their fear of ‘not understanding’, Pulse came up with the idea of pioneering Dance Dialogue.

In the intimate setting of a wood-panelled drawing room in Leicester’s 700-year-old Guildhall, under the auspices of Let’s Dance Festival, a small circle gathered around dancer Anusha Subramanyam. She was performing her signature piece From the Heart , which challenges notions of normal and abnormal based on her own experiences with therapeutic communities. The performance was prefaced by a gentle lead-in by dance writer and critic Donald Hutera, who urged the audience to become receptors using all their senses. He recalled the words of the iconic dance-maker Pina Bausch, who was obsessed with the question, ‘Where is the beauty?’

The dancer in turn responded to the informality by working the space into her performance: a ledge on the back wall that she climbed on, or placing herself on a period high chair. The physical closeness to the artist created an immediate rapport and a palpable intimacy to the performance.

The post-show discussion was irrepressible. Whether it was the quality of the performance itself or combined with the ‘permission’ that the audience had been granted, every audience member aged 10 to seniors was eager to share their experience. The best compliment was that a local dance teacher booked the show with the dance writer for her own students.

Spurred on by the success of Dance Dialogue, Pulse pilots a new Dance Club this autumn that will work on the lines of the very popular Book Club principle. The idea is simple: a group of the interested or curious gathered by Pulse, watch a performance and get together to discuss it afterwards. Everyone likes to have a say, which is fine, but additionally the club will invite a professional dance-watcher to facilitate the discussions and add their views.

Pulse has selected two performances this autumn: Amina Khayyam’s Yerma, and Shobana Jeyasingh’s double bill Configurations with a new piece, Strange Blooms, to the music of Gabriel Prokofiev. An outing to Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company’s iconic work made for churches in 2012, TooMortal, is offered to the first fifteen who book for a Pulse Dance Club performance.

Amina Khayyam comes from a Bengali background and has often made work that reflects the lives of women from her community. Trained in kathak by Sushmita Ghosh, Amina is respected as an artist of fine technique, who combines the extrovert element of her style with inner depth and subtle and nuanced expressions. In Yerma, based on a short story by Lorca, Amina portrays the pain of a childless woman scorned by society. Inverting the tradition of abhinaya, (facial mime), the performer wears a mask. Pulse supports a brave interpretation of Yerma, which is bound to challenge our preconceptions of kathak.

Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company needs no introduction. Shobana Jeyasingh remains the undisputed master of the craft of choreography, a position she has retained for a quarter-century. In the company’s 25th anniversary performance we are offered a double bill of Re-Configurations (the company’s very first piece re-worked in 2012), and a new work Strange Blooms made to the music of Gabriel Prokofiev. Expect speed with flawless technique, complex dance structures that keep you to the edge of your seat, and sheer visual poetry.

As a tasty teaser, Pulse offers the first fifteen who book for the Pulse Dance Club an entry to see TooMortal at the historic St Pancras Church in Euston.

Pulse Dance Club members gather at a convenient venue at the end of the evening to share experiences facilitated by a dance critic. All views are valid and group members may learn from each other a point missed or see a view from a different angle.



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