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This NY dance troupe is all set to thrill Mumbai with its fusion of bharatnatyam and contemporary | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

Battery Dance of New York launches its five-city tour of India with a performance at Bandra's St Andrew's Auditorium in Mumbai. This world-acclaimed dance company which has performed in 70 countries to date and brings to India a programme infused with themes as varied as Shakti, urbanity, high jinks and more. Internationally acclaimed choreographer and founder of the dance company, Jonathan Hollander said he was excited to be back in a country and city which he feels is a part of him. “I first came to India in 1968 as a school student on an exchange programme and felt a connect with the country, its culture and its dance forms instantly. I have been coming to India regularly since then,” he told DNA.

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Jonathan Hollander, Founder, Battery Dance Company 

The sexagenarian who has collaborated with the who's who of dance from across the globe has taken a leadership role in international cultural exchange and social activism. He founded Battery Dance Company in New York City in 1976 and has choreographed over 75 works that the company has presented in major theaters and festivals across five continents. “I have collaborated with Mallika Sarabhai, Padma Subrahmanyam, CV Chandrashekhar in the past. For this tour we are collaborating with the Bharatanatyam exponent Unnath Hassan Rathnaraju.”

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The Battery Dance Company, New York - DNA Photo

All praise for the rigour and training Unnath gets to his choreography, Jonathan says, “Despite coming from a grammar that is so different he was very open to the idea of suggestions and willing to work with a different style and grammar.”

The 33-year-old Unnath who is listening in, smiles remembering the initial few days of working with the company which were anything but easy. “Indian classical dance styles are more suited to individual performances and don't train you in partnering. I remember being a bundle of nerves wondering if this would work. But both Jonathan and the members of his company were all very friendly and accommodating. They helped me work out any residual hesitation in the first two weeks. At the end of the three months I developed a comfort zone in working with the team as a member.” He is all praise for Jonathan's style which does not allow any one style to subsume the other. “He allows the best of both worlds to emerge.”

Sean Scantlebury, a member of Battery Dance since 2003, is a performer and teacher who is equally adept within the styles of modern, ballet and hip-hop who has also been on India tours before said he was quite excited to be in Mumbai. “The sheer number of people are a shocker at times,” he laughs and adds, “I also watch the spices in the food which I am still getting used to. His colleague and Ghanian native Clement Mensah who has been with the company since 2012 said he found the inequality in distribution of wealth as a shocker. On one hand you have a state-of-the-art sea link and on the other you come across people living in abject poverty on the streets. It can take a while getting used to that kind of contrast.”

Can't argue with that. For now remember to head to St Andrews at 7 pm on Thursday for a dance routine to blow your mind!

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