Nrityagram's Saṃhara nominated for two Bessie awards
Photo: Peter Lorhaldar

July 28, 2012

The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble's Saṃhara, a production that has gathered global critical acclaim since it premiered in India less than a year back, has received two nominations for The Bessie Awards, to be held in New York on 15th October 2012 at the Apollo Theater. The Bessies are the dance world’s version of the Academy Awards (The New York Times 18 July 2012) and are recognized as the highest acclaim for original work.

The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble is the only performance and Dance Company from India to be nominated for these awards. Commenting on the nomination, Surupa Sen, Artistic Director of the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble and the choreographer of Saṃhara said, “We are gratified and humbled to be nominated along with some of the most outstanding dance companies and performers from across the world as it recognizes the contribution of Nrityagram to Indian classical dance and the quality of work being created here.”

The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble recently toured North America, with sold out performances of Saṃhara across the continent. Commenting on Saṃhara performed at the Joyce Theater, The New York Times wrote: “Ms. Sen’s instincts for where and when the Odissi style - with its sensuous grace and measured leaps and lunges - can be amplified without being distorted have only grown more sure. And her understanding of how to deploy multiple dancers in space - how and when to contrast them or combine them in unison - has only deepened.”

Saṃhara is Nrityagram’s first international collaboration. Together with Sri Lanka’s Chitrasena Dance Company, it explores the meeting point between the sensuousness of Nrityagram’s Odissi and the masculine dynamism of the Chitrasena’s Kandyan dance.

Final nominations for the 2012 Award Category of Outstanding Production:
1. Event by Merce Cunningham performed at the Park Avenue Armory.
2. Preludes and Fugues by Emanual Gat, performed by the Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve at the Joyce Theatre.
3. Samhara by Surupa Sen, performed by The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble at the Joyce Theatre.

Final nominations for the 2012 Award category of Outstanding Sound Design or composition:
1. Alex Waterman for Show by Maria Hassabi performed at the Kitchen.
2. Christian Wolf, John King, David Behrman, and Takehisa Kosugi for Event by Merce Cunningham performed at Park Avenue Armory.
3. Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi, Dhaneswar Swain, Prasanna Rupatilake and Surupa Sen for Samhara, choreographed by Surupa Sen and performed by The Nrityagram Ensemble at the Joyce Theatre.
4. Flamme Kapaya and band for more more more…future by Faustin Kinkyekula, performed at the Kitchen in the French Institute’s Crossing the Line Festival.

The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble
The Dance Ensemble, Nrityagram’s repertory company, is regarded as one of the foremost dance companies of India, performing all over the world including an annual tour to the United States. Although steeped in and dedicated to ancient practice, the Ensemble is also committed to carrying Indian dance into the twenty-first century. Enabled by grants from the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, and more recently from The Joyce Theater, New York, Nrityagram’s dancers not only explore creative expansions of tradition but are also able to commission fresh compositions from leading Indian classical musicians. For almost two decades, Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy have worked with the dance vocabulary of the Natya Shastra, an ancient treatise, and have developed a style that distinguishes the dancers of the Nrityagram School.

Nrityagram’s first full-length production, Sri - In Search of the Goddess, was premiered in New Delhi in 2001 and toured the USA in 2002-03. Subsequent works include Ansh (2004), which toured extensively and was presented at the Joyce Theater, New York, the following year; Sacred Space (2005), which was presented at Spoleto Festival, USA and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 2006; and Pratima: Reflection (2008), from which Vibhakta was listed among the ‘ten best dance performances of 2008’ by Joan Acocella in The New Yorker magazine. In 2011, the Ensemble performed and toured with Sriyaḥ: a decade of dance making, a selection from Surupa Sen’s choreographic work over the last decade.

The Bessie Awards
The mission of the Bessie Awards is to gather the city’s many dance communities, to honour outstanding work in the field of dance, and to advocate on the national and international stage for the extraordinary range of dance being performed in New York.

Established in 1983 by David White at Dance Theater Workshop, the New York Dance and Performance Awards or Bessie Awards - in honour of the treasured dancer and teacher Bessie Schonberg - acknowledge outstanding creative work by independent artists in the fields of dance and related performance in New York City. They honour exceptional choreography, performance, music composition, visual design and others areas of dance and performance. The award recipients are chosen by The Bessie Selection Committee, which consists of artists, dance presenters, producers, journalists, critics and academics.