The Navdhara India Dance Theater (NIDT) will perform for the first time in Turkey on May 23 at Istanbul’s İş Sanat before appearing two days later at the Mersin International Music Festival.
Founded by acclaimed Indian choreographer Ashley Lobo, NIDT sets out to represent the flow of thought of a new, modern India.
Combining old and new philosophies of movement, NIDT brings modern Indian Bollywood onto the theater stage. Dancers combine a strong Western dance technique with indigenous tools like ancient Indian dance, yoga, meditation and the like to create the feel of a Bollywood movie in a live setting.
NIDT’s past tours in the United States, China and Israel included performances at Tel Aviv’s Suzanne Dellal Center, New York’s Peridance Capezio Center, Los Angeles’ Diavolo Dance Theater, San Francisco’s ODC Theater, the Beer Sheva Performing Arts Center and Shanghai’s Dance Stages, receiving critical acclaim for their performances.
NIDT’s tours for 2017 include Israel, Turkey, South Africa, Germany and Canada. Ahead of the group’s arrival in Turkey, Lobo talked about their amazing show, “Passage to Bollywood.”
How did you decide to establish Navhadra India Dance Theater?
There are a lot of companies promoting Indian traditional dance overseas but none that represent modern India. Navdhara’s aim is to help overseas audience connect with the more modern part of India. One that is contemporary, now and truly global.
Thanks to your dance, people are becoming more familiar with Indian culture all around the world. What are the most important features of Indian culture? What kind of reaction do you get with your shows around the world?
Indian culture is very family-oriented. Religion is very strong. All occasions are celebrated with a lot of song and dance, color and life. People in general can be very idealistic, spiritual, and they believe in love, honor and sacrifice. Most audiences get taken in by the drama but what they love the most is the passion and the color and energy on stage. We have been lucky to have huge ovations in every show with people dancing in the aisles, etc.
How did you decide to combine with yoga, meditation and dance? What do they bring to your dance?
Yoga and meditation bring stillness. I believe when you are truly dancing, it is all about stillness. You cannot dance and think at the same time. For me yoga and meditation through breath control quiet the mind so the body can dance.
A generation in Turkey grew up with Bollywood films. What is the secret of Bollywood films?
Bollywood is full of song, dance and color. It is larger than life and idealistic. In the West there are two types, musicals and straight movies. In India nearly every movie is a musical. Bollywood films are a riot of color, energy, life, innocence and fun.
What is the difference between Eastern and Western dance in terms of technique and style? Do you know anything about Turkey such as film, music, dance and the like?
I think Eastern dance is more subtle and delicate compared to Western dance. I saw some Turkish shows on my last holiday visit. I have also been to the sema (whirling dance) ceremony and it moved me intensely.
What kind of a workout routine do your dancers follow to keep themselves in such shape?
If you want to be a professional dancer, it is important to remember that talent will only get you in the door. After that it’s character and hard work, passion and practice. A breath and sensation approach help young dancers find an independent voice.
You are coming to Turkey for the first time with your show. What would you like to say to the Turkish audience? What kind of a show should we expect at “A Passage to Bollywood?”
I have been to Turkey twice for holiday. I love the country and the people. Also love the food, history, etc. I would like to tell all Turkish people to come and see “A Passage to Bollywood” and taste a slice of India. It is a fiction story that is based on every village child’s dream to go to the big city and become successful. The story could be a real-life story – it unfolds very differently though.