Person-to-Person Must bring Meaning to Both Parties
Baroda (or Vadodara, as it is now called) was one of the cities where BDC director, Jonathan Hollander was to be based for his assignment as a Fulbright Lecturer. The M.S. University there is one of India’s finest, and Hollander had been aware of the art department since 1968 when he was an American Field Service high school exchange student in India.
C.V. Chandrasekhar occupied the position of Dean of the Dance Program within the Music College at M.S. University. Waiting to get his approval for thr lecturing position was a nail-biting time for Hollander – but it finally came and that unlocked the key to the entire program.
Chandrasekhar became a very close friend. Riding around the crowded lanes of Baroda on the back of his motor bike was a memory Jonathan Hollander will never forget. Like so many Indian dancers Jonathan met, he was a polymath – his first degree was in Botany; he was a consummate musician; his choreography was stunningly original; and even as he reached the age of a grandfather, he has continued to dance and perform.
When thinking about the many chapters of this relationship, it seems important to point out that the best international cultural projects are bilateral; and that, at the heart of it, the person-to-person element must offer something meaningful to both parties.
In this case, Chandrasekhar showed Hollander his choreography – performed by magnificently skilled dancers who all had “day jobs” followed by long-distance commutes in order to appear for nightly rehearsals at their Guru’s studio/home. Stunned by his powerful choreographic voice, Hollander determined that American audiences should have the opportunity to experience it. Months later after having returned to the U.S., he also met with Jenneth Webster, the artistic director of Lincoln Center’s Out-of-Doors Festival, and she, like Hollander, recognized Chandrasekhar’s brilliance and agreed to present his company.
This led to a very intensive undertaking – the booking of a national U.S. tour for Chandrasekhar and his troupe of dancers and musicians. It was an exhausting endeavor but BDC learned many important lessons (ie. applying for work visas for dance companies - P-3 is the category for culturally unique performers) and made a name for Battery Dance Company among academics and Indo-philes across the U.S.