CHENNAI: When people with disabilities are breaking barriers in every possible field, why not in performing arts? Candoco, a 25-year-old UK-based contemporary dance company, enables the disabled and non-disabled artists to come together and share their love for dance.
City express caught up with artists Mirjam Gurtner and Dan Daw of Candoco who were recently in the city for their debut tour in India, hosted by the British Council. The duo performed a duet, Studies for C, choreographed by award winning choreographer Javier de Frutos at Spaces, Besant Nagar.
Here’s a bit more about their routine. Studies for C is inspired by Tennessee Williams’ play Camino Real and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. It depicts a couple trapped in a stagnating relationship and their struggles through dance and music, which is a selection of five songs, performed by Lila Downs (Mexican singer).
“We were blown away by the people of Chennai and the generosity and sincerity. We get a really strong sense of curiosity and wanting to know more. And this is something that does not happen very often,” said Dan and Mirjam, dressed in black suits designed with quotes taken from the Tennessee Williams play Camino Real. The highlight of their costume was the Lucha Libre mask (Mexican wrestling masks).
You may wonder how the dance company represents their spirit with these two artists. Pat comes the reply from Dan (physically challenged), who says, “Candoco has really revolutionised dance by acknowledging that in our differences we are all in fact the same. The beauty about Candoco is that we do not think of each other in terms of our disabilities,” he shared. “As a performer and producer, my association with this company started in 2010. I left in 2014 to start exploring and making my own work,” said Dan, recipient of the Adelaide Fringe Festival Best Dance Award (2009).
Mirjam who has been the rehearsal director for this routine since 2012, said that they (artists) connect deeply with the piece on a personal level. “It is about finding the connection in the moment. We are very much influenced by the space and environment where the performance is held; it somehow really enriches my relationship to the piece,” shared the artist-cum-choreographer.
Candaco being a repertoire company has left the freedom of art and styles to its artists. “For me the experience with Candoco was different from the perspective of it being a repertoire company,” said Dan. Reconnecting and hitting the right choreography with the music note, Javier’s choreography was clear as day, shared the artist. “He, as a choreographer came with a very clear idea about the structure of the piece but it was still very much a collaboration of our stories and experiences and therefore informing the work,” they shared.
With their next performance for the Indian tour lined up in Kolkata (March 26) and New Delhi (March 31), the duo are excited to be performing in front of a different crowd. “The performance is the same structurally, but the response has always been different depending on the environment. We are excited,” said Dan, while, Mirjam added, “Dance is about communication. It’s a door to understand the world and myself in it. Every performance is special and we are happy to be performing in front of a new audience.”