Upcoming Performances & Events
BIRDS IN CIRCLED FLIGHT- A meditation on loss and dreaming new horizons
May 8th, 2022 at 5:30 pm
Neighborhood House, 4th Floor (Theater), 20 N. American Street, Philadelphia
Join the Courtyard Dancers in their collective reckonings of the past two years with a new dance-theater piece based on Armenian music, Ghazal, Tagore and Kathak. We pay our tribute to those and what we have lost as we look forward to the future with renewed energy and artistic rigor.
Performed by Courtyard Dancers. Concept and Choreography Pallabi Chakravorty. The event will begin with the splendors of rhythm with our little Courtyard Dancers.
This is a non-ticketed event. Donations at the door are appreciated (suggested $10).
Art work for poster background: Beverly Brown
PAST EVENTS & PERFORMANCES
March 2021 A Fleeting Thought Performed for DancElation, a virtual festival of Indian Dance, curated by Mayur Dance Company
Kathak bols and Ghazal performed by Courtyard Dancers senior student Palak Singhee, choreographed by Pallabi Chakravorty.
January 2021 Close Ups: Pallabi Chakravorty. Online event hosted by Intercultural Journeys, Philadelphia
October 2020 The Khusrau Circle Online event hosted by Rasa Festival, Michigan
Kathak choreography on poetry Zihal-I-Miskin by Amir Khusrau, on the streets of Fishtown, Philadelphia. Pallabi performed against the backdrop of the mural “The Circle” painted by a Venezuelan artist living in Philadelphia Henry Bermudez
September 2019 Riyaaz Premiered at Facing East Festival in Philadelphia; repeat performance New York at 14th street Y, aired on Arts Access TV- Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy by City of Philadelphia (2021)
Riyaaz – practice – is more than just the repetition of movement and music. It is a way of life, a path to enter deeply into communion with the body, the self, community, and the world. It is the constant process of polishing the essential while stripping away all that is unnecessary and impeding, including the ego. Previewed in The Philadelphia Dance Journal and reviewed in ThinINKing Dance and Broadway Review. Four East Coast contemporary dance companies come together to explore the many dimensions of Riyaaz, drawing from the rich foundations of their respective styles.
September 2017 Find Metiabruz Premiered at Facing East Festival at Painted Bride Art Center. Performed by invitation at: Rasa multiple-arts festival, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Spring Dance Concert at Swarthmore College, New York Kathak Festival (2019)
Metiabruz in Kolkata is the place where the British exiled Wajid Ali Shah, who was a poet, an aesthete, and the last emperor of India. In this dance theater piece, Metiabruz (now in the contemporary cloister of Kolkata) is a metaphor for the habitations of poetry in our lives.
September 2015 The Mahatma is Fasting (re-choreographed). Performed at Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, and by invitation at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2002.
Newly choreographed a 2002 piece for a new two-day dance and music festival launched by the Courtyard Dancers titled Facing East. The festival was imagined as a collective prayer and protest that united us against violence. The festival celebrated the richness and diversity of Indian dance and music artists in Philadelphia.
June 2014 Asunder Performed at Painted Bride Art Center, and by invitation for Saaz, an organization that promotes South Asian music in Philadelphia (May)
A contemporary dance-theater set to Kathak (Chow taal, twelve beats). Things fall apart. Wholes are ripped asunder. Families, communities and nations. This dance-theater is a meditation on the partition of India.
March 13, 2013 Parampara by Courtyard Dancers and Swarthmore Students. Performed at Lang Performing Arts Center, Swarthmore College.
Choreographed by distinguished Cornell Visiting Professor Kumudini Lakhia ((Padma Bhushan, India), featured renowned Kathak performers from Kadamb Centre for Dance in Ahmedabad, India, members of Philadelphia-based dance company Courtyard Dancers (founded by dance faculty member Pallabi Chakravorty), and Swarthmore students.
June 2012 Unsung Arrivals. Performed at Villanova University, fundraiser for the nonprofit Profugo (April), Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia (June).
This evening-length composition used classical and contemporary Indian dance, and live music and percussion and poetry to explore the ordinary stories of unacknowledged lives—from the nautch girls of India’s past to marginal and empowered women today.
October 2010 Celluloid E-motions. Performed at Asian Arts Initiative
Premier of a dance theater piece titled Celluloid Emotions in celebration of Courtyard Dancers tenth anniversary. Celluloid E-motions uses Indian dance, music, Urdu poetry (Ghazals) and Bollywood dance to explore spiritual/aesthetic and commodified emotions. This work challenges elite and monolithic views of cultural heritage by creating a complex slice of contemporary and past emotional experiences. Anthropologist/film maker Nandini Sikand was commissioned to create a film that was integral to the choreography.
May 2010 Plural. Performed at Swarthmore College, LPAC Theater, for the Presidential inauguration of Rebecca Chop; Mascher Space Co-op, Philadelphia, Weavers Studio, Kolkata, India.
A dance theater impression of the poetry and melody of a Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s composition. The dance form Kathak—like Urdu, Punjab, and Faiz—is a synthesis, a cross-fertilization of Islam and Hinduism, pluralism practiced everyday.
2008/2009 Chess Players Performed at Faculty Dance Concert, Swarthmore College; Classical Indian Dance Conference, Towson University, organized by Jayamangala (a Bharatnatyam dance organization in Maryland).
Based on a Ghazal (erotic Urdu-Hindi poetry) sung by Farida Khanum. The lyrics depict a lover’s lament. A woman (perhaps a tawaif/courtesan) begs her lover to spend the night. I interpret the song as representing the ethos of the courtesan, her dance, and music. All this represents a time that is bygone. But, I beg it to stand still so that I can hold on to it a little longer.
2006/2007 Replaced Rituals. Performed at Community Education Center; Bryn Mawr College Faculty Dance Concert; Swarthmore College Faculty Dance Concert; Painted Bride Art Center.
A collaborative dance-theater piece with Bharatnatyam and modern dancer Daniel Singh. The work blends Kathak and Bharatnatyam to explore a new vocabulary of movements to give voice to the South Asian diaspora community. The key concept of this work is centered on the relationships between ritual, memory, body, and identity. By focusing on Hindu and Islamic rituals drawn from Bhakti and Sufi traditions, and through movement and gestures (from Bharatanatyam and Kathak) and day-to-day life, the work highlights what it means to be a south Asian today.
2005 Union/Dissolution. Performed at Painted Bride Art Center, Swarthmore Faculty Dance Concert; Bryn Mawr College Faculty Dance Concert, PS 122 in New York.
A collaborative dance theater piece conceived and performed with theater artist Ulla Denzer. It uses an eclectic blend of material adapted from Peter Weiss’ 1965 play Marat/Sade, 13th century Persian poet Iraqi’s Lama’at, and twentieth century Polish poet Anna Swir. Kabir’s verses (translated by Linda Hess and Sukhdev Singh) frame the entire piece and form its core.
2004 Longing Performed at Swarthmore College Student Dance Concert
This short composition explores the essence of the aesthetic theory of rasa through the emotional state of longing. Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry is interspersed with a traditional north Indian song to evoke a heightened emotional state due to the arrival of monsoon. The movement vocabulary is based on traditional Kathak repertoire.
2003 In Search of Sound Performed at St. Josephs College for the Philadelphia Women’s Studies Consortium; Swarthmore College Student Dance Concert; Pragati Bengali Association in Philadelphia.
Based on Kathak and various pedestrian movements and gestures the piece choreographs the cacophony of sound and movement that surrounds us. Yet, there is an eternal quest for clarity and sense of self that unites us as humans. This piece blends various percussion beats from tabla, taiko drums, and vocal tones.
2002 Threads: Story of a Sari from Labor to Market. Performed at Kumquat Theatre, Philadelphia, for the Glue performance Series; University of Pennsylvania, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
This thirty-two minute performance piece, inspired by the weavers located in rural India, tells the story of the journey of a sari from villages to the global market. The dance vocabulary is a blend of Kathak interpretive work gestures, and contemporary movements.
2002 The Mahatma is Fasting Performed at The Philadelphia Museum of Art
A twenty-five minute performance piece, specifically created for Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday celebrations at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The piece uses song, dance and poetry to interpret his political and moral philosophy and presents his method of nonviolence as a tool for social change.
2001 At Play in the House of the Lord Choreographed for Student Dance Concert at Swarthmore College
This piece explores the relationship between performance, play and ritual enactment. The music evokes the festival of colors or Holi, where Radha and Krishna play with colors (abir) with friends in the guise of mere mortals. This is known as leela or divine play.
2000 Imagining Jamuna This piece was the Premiere of “Courtyard Dancers,” performed at Goodhart Theatre, Bryn Mawr College, sponsored by Department of Anthropology, Arts, Feminist and Gender Studies, and Bryn Mawr College South Asian Women’s Association. Asian Arts Initiative for a forum on Women and Labor in the Global Economy. Women’s Conference at Seton Hall College. Feminist Future Conference, Rutgers University. Faculty Dance Conference, Bryn Mawr College.
This is a forty-minute composition; it uses four to five dancers and is a critique of the orientalist rendering of classical Indian dance. Using classical dance movements and everyday gestures, this piece imagines the lives of domestic women workers whose labor maintains the comforts of bourgeois life in India.
2000 Silencing the Nautch This piece was the Premiere of “Courtyard Dancers,” Good hart Theatre, Bryn Mawr College. Faculty Dance Concert at Swarthmore College, Asian Arts Initiative, Rap series- Department of Anthropology, Temple University, Brown Bag Lunch series. Sapatasur Music Circle, Kolkata, India
This twenty-minute composition uses video and dance performance to represent the repressed history of the (Nautch) dancing girls in India. The dance movements are based on traditional and interpretive Kathak.