Dallas — Need a break from The Nutcracker? If you’re ready for a non-holiday themed dance production this December, my recommendation is Indique Dance Company’s upcoming SvaBhava. Chosen by the City of Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs and the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Indique Dance Company was selected as one of eight performing arts submissions for the 2018/2019 Elevator Project series. Opening the series with SvaBhava, the contemporary-Indian dance company will explore themes of life, meaning, and purpose through a unique blend of classical Indian techniques and contemporary dance forms. The company defines SvaBhava as “the intrinsic, essential nature of living beings.”
Through the lens of both traditional Indian movement and popular influences, the diverse collection of dancers will investigate these universal motifs of human existence.
Founded in 2008, Indique Dance Company brings classically trained Indian dancers of varying age and background together. The group was founded by Latha Shrivatsa—who’s mission was to organize an Indian dance company that both celebrates traditional styles and experiments with new possibilities for movement expression. In my conversation with Shrivatsa, she mentioned that using a collaborative rehearsal structure where each company member contributes concepts, ideas, and choreography allows for more variation in their work. In addition to classical Indian techniques like Bharatanatyam, the company merges Indian folk dance, modern, and even pop-culture trends within their work. “Most of us tend to work with what flows naturally from our own body—then it’s up to the rest of us to learn than and make it work.” Through their innovative approach, the company strives to share Indian culture and values to a diverse audience-base.
In addition to their Elevator Project achievement, the company also hit its 10-year anniversary in 2018. Shrivatsa says that in the early stages, the group had two goals: to create movement/express ideas through their bodies, and to connect with audiences. Over the years, Indique Dance Company began to create a unique sense of “self.” Shrivatsa commented on the transformation of the company.
“Now, I feel like we have a much better idea of who we are—we kind of found our identity. In the process of all these productions, you express—then you look back at those expressions and you’re like, ‘oh, that’s who I am!’,” she says.
Perhaps this self-reflection and search for identity is where the company’s theme of Svabhava began. Shrivatsa recalled the similarities between her response and the concept for the upcoming Elevator Project.
“It explores who we are inherently. We talk about who we are without experience, who we are with experience,” she says. “It raises the question, ‘ is this who we really are, or is this who we are because of what happened to us?’”
As I pondered her words, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between the evolution of the company and the theme chosen to celebrate this accomplishment.
In addition to discovering their own identity as a company, Shrivatsa stressed the importance of revisiting the second goal—finding a way to connect to audience members. One way that Indique Dance Company connects with audiences is through what Shrivatsa refers to as “universal forms of expression.”
“We really try to focus on commonalities between people—which is why we explore a lot of emotion,” she says. “Most people have experienced some amount of sadness, some amount of happiness. So we take that universal approach and go from there.”
» Catch Indique Dance Company’s Svabhava in four performances, from Thursday, Dec. 6 through Saturday, Dec. 8, in Hamon Hall inside the Winspear Opera House.