An Overview of Battery Dance Company in India since 1992
1992 – A Fulbright Visiting Lecturer Program
As an undergraduate Russian major at Swarthmore College, BDC director, Jonathan Hollander had a friend Janaki Patrik. Janaki had been mesmerized by a performance of North Indian Kathak dance performed by the ultimate maestro Birju Maharaj and thence changed the course of her life, becoming America’s top Kathak dancer. As part of her studies, she took a year in India as a Fulbright Scholar to deepen her knowledge. Upon returning, she surprised Jonathan by suggesting that he apply for a Fulbright to take his work to India. Janaki knew that Jonathan had strong ties to the Subcontinent dating back to his high school days as an AFS exchange student in Bombay. However, she didn’t know that Jonathan was a college drop-out, having left the University of California/Irvine in mid-term when he was offered a scholarship by Merce Cunningham. He never thought of himself as Fulbright material” but Janaki persuaded him otherwise.
Jonathan was delighted when word finally came that CIES (Council for the International Exchange of Scholars) and the Government of India had approved his application and that C.V. Chandrasekhar, Dean of Dance at the Music College at the M.S. University in Baroda, would accept him into his department. Likewise, Jonathan found acceptances from the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Bombay (now called Mumbai) and Darpana Academy in Ahmedabad, run by the legendary Sarabhais, the dancer/scholars, Mrinalini and her daughter Mallika. Likewise, Kumudini Lakhia and Kadamb had invited Jonathan to stage a modern dance workshop for senior disciples.
Many choreographers and artistic directors will relate to Jonathan's next move: Not content to take himself , his wife and their 18-month-old daughter Isabelle to India for 3 months on the austere budget provided by the Fulbright, Jonathan decided to bring his entire dance company along for at least part of the time. This was to be the first of many tours of India by Battery Dance Company.