San Francisco-based Oberlin Dance Collective (ODC) School and ODC Theater will present the 59th pilot program to introduce emerging dance choreography work, “Hello, My Name Is…” The title captures the essence of the program in which artists venture beyond casual introductions and penetrate deeper into dynamic and synergistic connections.
Six new works are broken down in 10-minute compositions performed by artists from around the world who have been mentored for 11 weeks by experienced professionals. Each artist will present original dance pieces exploring the concepts of encounters and relationships.
Jaysi Chander, an Indian American multi-disciplinary artist will present an excerpt from her new work “Avara, La Vagabonda,” which fuses Western contemporary dance elements and the Indian art of storytelling: kathak dance. For Chander, the kathak style has much room for improvisation and she utilizes this freedom to craft a “new vocabulary” of art while retaining its inherent rhythmic rules.
“I am classically trained in kathak and bharatnatyam and yet I have been innovating within the tradition of kathak by incorporating contemporary content, narratives, poetry, music, and songs from outside of the classical context,” she says.
Chander’s performance portrays the life of Rani, an Indian courtesan residing in Pondicherry, a French colony in India in the early 20th century. Rani’s struggle for love and freedom are intertwined with the writings from La Vagabonda by Colette the French novelist and also forms the “core of this lyrical performance enlivened by a talented musical ensemble,” according to Chander. Chander will be accompanied by Leslie Schneider on vocals, Ben Kunin on sarod, Rik Ganju on piano, and Tim Witter on tabla.
Chander, a self-described “doctor by profession, a dreamer, dancer, and drummer by obsession,” is the founder of JypsyJays Productions and has created and performed locally and internationally. A graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School, she is also a practicing physician serving part-time at Tom Waddell Clinic for the Homeless. Chander earned a master’s in public health focusing on environmental health sciences from UC Berkeley, and recently finished a fellowship in occupational and environmental medicine at University of California San Francisco.
In the world of the arts, Chander trained at the Chhandam School of Kathak with Chitresh Das for 10 years and continues to study tabla with Swapan Chaudhuri. Her training extends to singing, poetry and the meditative and yogic arts for inner discipline. Chander is also trained in ballet, jazz, tap, and contemporary dance. This diverse background filled with prolific accomplishments somehow amalgamates and resonates into true and comprehensive artistry. With precise depth, she attributes the absorption of each new learning to an “inspiration which comes from within as music leads to dance which in turn paves the path to yoga, yoga leads to meditation, meditation transcends to a love of service and thus each discipline augments the other.”
As of recent, Chander has been extending her dance techniques at ODC by studying contemporary release technique comprised of down flowing body movements and contact improvisation, a spontaneous and relational form of dance involving other performers.
Additional artists who will be showcasing their work are Hentyle Yapp, a Ph.D. student in performance studies from UC Berkeley with works in contemporary choreography in Taipei and New York. Yapp will present work involving contemporary release technique. Yapp’s piece “focuses on the different dimensions of fear that construct our lives. Fear ranges from the micro such as personal anxiety and hate crimes to the macro such as political situations or red to yellow security levels.”
Seattle native Bianca Cabrera will present a seven-person ensemble to examine stories and fairy tales while Yayoi Kambara of Japan explores truth and lies between people through a series of duets. International dance artist Charles Slender will explore a fresh mode of work through pure movement.
Each artist was chosen through a competitive process and is trained to work in choreography, self- production, marketing, public relations and technical production in a group setting.
For over 30 years, ODC, a contemporary arts institution is known not only for its entrenched footing in San Francisco neighborhoods through activities of community development but also features a fully integrated dance center in the West Coast with performance venues and dance training programs.