Courtyard Dancers blend tradition and contemporary with Asunder

Courtyard Dancers
Photo credit: JJ Tiziou

Courtyard Dancers, a cultural collective of the South Asian diaspora in Philadelphia, present their latest dance-theater creation, ASUNDER, at the Painted Bride on June 27th and 28th at 8:00PM. This evening-length composition uses classical and contemporary Indian dance, live music and percussion, and text to explore what once was and never shall be again: an undivided India.   A dance theater, using Kathak dance, poetry, Thumri and Baul songs, it evokes a landscape of nostalgia, loss, and longing for a homeland that was broken asunder during “desh bhagh” (the partition of India).

ASUNDER is conceived and choreographed by Dr. Pallabi Chakravorty, a dance anthropologist, dancer and dance-maker known for fusing ethnographic research with her artistic creations. She is a full time faculty in the department of Music and Dance at Swarthmore College. The members of Courtyard Dancers are a vibrant and diverse group that embodies the idea of multiplicity. They are engineers, doctors, bankers, lawyers, teachers and students who aspire to preserve the core and expand the boundaries of classical Indian dance, especially the North Indian form Kathak.  For them, dancing is a form of critical social engagement—to connect to the traditional arts of India but within a contemporary framework of aesthetics and progressive politics. The Courtyard Dancers aim for artistic excellence by adhering to the precision of classical Indian dance aesthetics but with an open approach to the best of modernity.

Live tabla and vocal support are provided by accomplished musicians from Pakistan: Aqeel Bhatti and Joel Rahmat. The musical compositions show the overlapping traditions of North Indian and Pakistani classical music.

About Courtyard Dancers
Courtyard Dancers is a nonprofit dance company interested in developing a socially engaged community of artists and audiences who experience the arts as the building blocks of community. Their dance-theaters juxtapose the beauty of the classical Indian dances with pedestrian movements, everyday gestures, utterances, and text to create new collages of life. The company draws on the expressive power of dance and music to narrate stories of the under-represented and the unusual, the quotidian and the mundane, to evoke dramatic and powerful images of ordinary life. Through their dance works, workshops, and speaking engagements, the company strives for sustainable and pluralistic communities that can acknowledge and bridge differences.

Courtyard Dancers presents Asunder
June 27 and 28 | 8pm
The Painted Bride Arts Center, 230 Vine Street, Philadelphia

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