The last few decades have witnessed a significant shift in how dance is imagined, practiced and organised in India. The supporting socio-political and economic environment surrounding its professional practice, however, has been quite unresponsive. It is imperative that existing structures of institutions and infrastructure are reimagined and redesigned, and new support systems invented, so that dancers can continue to be supported in their professional and artistic endeavours.
Dance Union seeks to place the dance community, as the primary stakeholders, at the centre of such an exercise. Its primary aim is to facilitate an alliance between dancers, and between dancers and other stakeholders, to address issues within the practice of dance, such as access to physical infrastructure, funding, health and safety measures and professional development schemes, that would enhance the quality of their lives and work. There is a strong emphasis to encourage people from a variety of dance backgrounds to come together, discuss their common issues as practitioners and collaboratively arrive at solutions. Dancers can get involved in the project in three ways:
1. Moving Stories
The concept of Moving Stories germinated from the idea of utilizing communication tools to help dancers articulate their needs and create connections through a deep dialogue between the participants in the workshop. The two day workshop fulfils the primary requirement of community building as it affords dancers the space to assess their needs and aspirations as professionals while engaging and connecting with each other on a common platform.
2. Monthly Discussion
The monthly discussions are designed to give dancers from various backgrounds a common platform, where they are able to inform and interact with the large dance community in Delhi. The creation of a vibrant and supportive space for dance is only possible through the crucial involvement of the larger dance community in designing and implementing solutions for their practice-related issues. Monthly Discussions, held in different parts of the city, provide dancers with space to have regular interactions and gain clarity on the kind of intervention the community will undertake to improve the dance environment.
The first such intervention taken up by Dance Union is in the area of physical infrastructure for dance in Delhi. The aim of this exercise is to assess the condition, accessibility and affordability of performance and rehearsal spaces in Delhi, and to renew the working conditions of three existing spaces in order to better meet the requirements of artists. This pilot intervention will be realized with the participation of the dance community and other stakeholders such as the management and staff of the sites, local communities, government bodies and funding agencies, and further utilized as a tool for advocating for multiple such interventions across the city.