Curator of NCPA's Spectrum - Swapnokalpa Dasgupta - bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary dance

In an exclusive interview with the curator of NCPA's Spectrum 2019, Swapnokalpa shares the journey of an artiste in India and the importance of preserving the dance culture in the country

Curator of NCPA's Spectrum - Swapnokalpa Dasgupta - bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary dance

Over the last few years, Mumbai’s National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) has been preserving the rich Indian culture, promoting dance and music events. As the venue completes 50 years in 2019, NCPA celebrates with the 2nd edition of ‘'Spectrum- A festival of dances from around the world'. 

In an exclusive interview with the curator of Spectrum 2019 -  Swapnokalpa Dasgupta (Head of Dance Programming, NCPA), shared her views about how dance as an art has evolved in India.

Here’s what she had to say:

As per your experience, how receptive do you think the Indian audience is towards traditional and new-age dance forms?

"Our NCPA audiences are quite receptive to experimentation. This was our first attempt to present Bollywood and it got a good response from our regular audience members as they moved with the rhythms of the songs. This time we also saw many new and young faces for our show. The main objective of Spectrum is to present a variety of dance forms to our audiences. The show on 8th Feb on Bollywood numbers thus had dances from Tibet, China as well as classical Indian dances performed on Bollywood numbers. Nostalgia surely was a winner as audiences cheered just listening to the commentary mentioning bollywood classics like Babuji dheere chalna ..pyar mya zara sambhalna performed by Jhelum Paranjpe’s Smitalay and compositions of  Kathak legend Pt Birju Maharaj jis from the film Devdas performed by Tina tambe. The audiences were equally excited to see Sandip Soparkar’s experimentation on Bollywood numbers using Cham dance from Tibet and long sleeve dance from China. India being a cultural milieu and especially Mumbai, I think we are open to experiencing different forms of dance very naturally."

 What are the major challenges the young talent aspiring to become a dancer face in the country?

"Traditionally being a full time dancer has not been seen as a prospective career option in our country. Our audiences have long been used to experiencing shows for free so buying a ticket to experience good quality art is a struggle. This ticket in turn helps to make dance as a profession sustainable for the artiste. So for me the habit of paying for a good quality dance show is a biggest challenge which needs to be overcome."

How has contemporary dance been breaking boundaries across the globe?

"Any form of art which allows growth and experimentation maintaining its uniqueness would create new opportunities. With funding from the Government and  citizens the Western world has been successful in creating this healthy space for such experimentation in the field of Contemporary dance enabling it to attain great heights. In India too things are changing. Over the past few years Contemporary dance has been able to create its niche audience."


How do you see Spectrum as a platform to promote your dance form?

"The name spectrum was given keeping in mind the variety of dance forms that exist in the world. Last year our presentations involved dance forms like ballroom dancing, ballet, aerial silk  to name a few. This year we present traditional forms like Pung cholom (drum dance of Manipur), Flamenco and Bollywood. The festival aims to introduce new dance forms into the NCPA calendar and create audiences form the same. A name that signifies the entire SPECTRUM of dance would thus be helpful."


India is repository of a rich cultural heritage and advocates of the same philosophy which inspires many to focus on such art forms. Swapnokalpa’s views and efforts help preserve the traditional dance forms. NCPA’s contribution in the same has been laudable and we’re looking forward to a year full of such enriching events. 
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