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Open Call: Now On

Now On: Spaarkk2020 by Attakkalari

Spaarkk 2020 Launch Stills. Photo courtesy: Attakkalari

NOW ON was conceived as a call that welcomed ideas, thoughts and experiments that responded to the current crisis and its impact on the work of promoting arts and international arts exchange. Of the 100+ applications received, eight received the Now On grant. The Now On series of interviews presents the recipients of the Now On grant and their projects.

Jayachandran Palazhy
Photo courtesy: Attakkalari

In this interview, we speak with Jayachandran Palazhy of Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts about Spaarkk2020 for which they received the Now On grant.

Jayachandran Palazhy is a changemaker and a visionary leader whose work has impacted the development of contemporary dance in India through many of his strategic interventions and initiatives. He has trained in Contemporary Dance, Ballet, Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Indian folk dance forms, Kalarippayattu , Tai Chi, Capoeira and African Dance forms. Jayachandran is an internationally sought after dancer, choreographer, teacher and the Artistic Director of Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bangalore.

1. Could you tell us about Attakkalari?

Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts is India’s premier contemporary dance organization working in the realm of education, training, research, choreography, productions, performances, festivals and stage technologies. As an organization invested in transdisciplinary exchanges and collaborations, Attakkalari has developed strategic global partnerships and produced many international arts projects and events. Driven by its motto ‘Traditional physical wisdom, Innovation and Technology’, Attakkalari has successfully brought together knowledge and wisdom from Indian physical and performance traditions and blended them meaningfully with information and skills created elsewhere in the world. Over the years Attakkalari has helped to transform the contemporary dance scene in India and has created a generation of dance artists who have made their mark nationally and internationally.

2. What is Spaarkk 2020?

Spaarkk 2020 is an online platform for curated performances, events, training and discourses on arts and ideas with the support of “Now On” grant from Pro Helvetia. Spaarkk 2020 is a creative platform for new ideas and initiatives facilitating an increased online presence and reach of dance and allied art forms with multiplying effect. Aimed to spark off new thoughts, practices and ventures in the arts, Spaarkk 2020 welcomes ideas/ projects that are nascent or fully developed from arts practitioners of diverse disciplines.

Hybrid in nature, Spaarkk 2020 events are filmed, edited and streamed online in real time as they happen live at Attakkalari’s Rangamandala theatre, often linking with people and events across the globe. Enabled by Attakkalari Culture Port some contents are pre-produced and streamed through Attakkalari’s as well as partners’ Facebook and YouTube channels. Most events have a live interactive session with online audience and participants. The events range from performances, discussions, discourses, talks, master classes, workshops, research presentations on dance, theatre, music and allied disciplines with a wider reach transcending geography. By inviting artists to suggest new ways of imagining performances, events, training, discourses and other interventions, a set of new concepts, ideas and approaches is emerging. Spaarkk 2020 has managed to build an online community of both artists, participants and audiences.

3. What inspired you to apply to the Now On grant?

Faced with myriad of COVID and the subsequent lockdown related difficulties and challenges, Attakkalari retrained artists and staff, and launched Attakkalari Connect offering a variety of online classes from their homes using mobile phones and laptops. We were desperately looking for resources to develop this into a more professional set up from Attakkalari premises, which we believed would be a paradigm shift. The “Now On” grant announced by Pro Helvetia aligned perfectly with our vision and need to develop this as a wider hybrid platform of online and offline events, which, combined, would bring the arts community together and stimulate new ideas and practices. This resulted in the conceiving of Spaarkk 2020. The grant gave us confidence to develop concept, people and structure for Spaarkk 2020. Attakkalari’s physical infrastructure of 3 large studios, an intimate black box theatre, administrative facilities, café, guest house and a well-resourced tech division – TransMedia Technologies as well as expertise and experience of producing multimedia productions through international collaborations also helped to ensure a smooth transition.

4. How does your project Spaarkk 2020 promote artistic work despite the pandemic? 

Sparkk 2020 allows people to participate in the events – be they production processes, performances, workshops, discussions, talks or other events from the comfort of their home, and from wherever they are, both online as well as physically, if they are able to come to Attakkalari. We have already managed to produce few original works, performances, conduct discussions and talks as well as stream them live. We also have managed to pre-produce digital content in collaboration with other artists and organisations to stream them online, often accompanied with live interactive sessions. We also managed to develop strategies for live interactive performances from different locations using internet for live streaming. As the reach of Spaarkk 2020 transcends geographical locations, it offers artists, participants and audience multiple ways of engaging with content. The content is also available online on Attakkalari’s digital platforms after the live streaming so people that could not watch it live can access it later.

5. What can we expect to see in the near future with Spaarkk 2020?

We are currently working on a series of live online desk concerts in electronic music called Sound Sessions. We also have quite a few young and emerging choreographers from India and America currently producing interesting works to be performed and streamed as part of Spaarkk. Special workshops and intensives on a variety of movement languages are in the pipeline too. Technology allows us to virtually cross seas and collaborate with many international artists who will be collaborating with their counterparts in India, to create performances that will be live streamed. We are also in conversation with Swiss choreographer Gilles Jobin for a lecture presentation of his advanced approaches to technology in dance.

To know more follow the websites www.spaarkk.com and www.attakkalari.org

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