© Cylla von Tiedemann

Our third year student, Tanveer Alam, was born and raised in Montreal, and started his dance training in the Indian classical dance form Kathak. Three years ago, he moved to Toronto at the age of 17, to study contemporary dance in our Professional Training Program.

We asked Tanveer about his time at the School:

“Being here has allowed me to try new things; learning a whole different way of moving. It has been really instrumental for the things I want to do after I leave the School. I actually did the Summer Intensive twice, before I came to the School, and I loved my experience here. I learned a lot of new things that I hadn’t been exposed to in Montreal. It’s really interesting – we get to learn a lot of technique, and I think for someone like me, who was jumping into a new world of dance, it was important for me to get the basic foundations in these technical forms.”

We asked Tanveer for highlights of his time at the School so far:

“In second year, we got the chance to work with acclaimed choreographer Danny Grossman, and to perform his Endangered Species, which is probably one of his most amazing and craziest works. It was great to take on that challenge, and do something that was so different, and so out of my world. I’ll probably remember that piece for the rest of my life.”

On his recent break over the holidays, Tanveer co-choreographed a Hip Hop and Kathak piece with Alexandra “Spicey” Landé, for the Not Just Dance Symposium, organised by the company Nyata Nyata in Montreal. He also continued working on Éclosion, his solo for Tangente, through the residency program of Peggy Baker Dance Projects and Canada’s National Ballet School.

Tanveer has created a work that will be presented in the upcoming Dance Ontario Dance Weekend (performance on Sunday, January 27 at 5:45pm). As he explains, he creates and presents contemporary dance works through Kathak, an Indian classical dance form he continues to study under Guru Sandhya Desai. Distinguished by dynamic spins, strong musicality, graceful movement, and subtle expressive qualities, the choreography showcases the immense capacity of innovation within the vocabulary of Kathak.

Tanveer strongly believes in creating works that evoke a sense of togetherness and represent the South Asian diaspora of young artists. The piece he will present for Dance Ontario is entitled Sameere, and performing with Tanveer will be his co-dancer, Prajakta Dravid. About the work, he says: “If you look closely, a gentle breeze can tell a tale of romance… Sameere – meaning wind, in Sanskrit, as well as companion, in Urdu, is one such tale which demonstrates the dancers’ connection to melody, poetry, and each other.”

As Tanveer explains, “One of my biggest aspirations in life has been to find meeting points between Kathak and contemporary dance by creating works that reflect on my experiences with these two styles. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to nurture my choreographic voice, by presenting pieces on various platforms such as the New Blue Dance Festival, the London Dance Festival, le MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels), the Great India Festival, and many more!

© Alvin Collantes

In 2017, I was asked to create Éclosion, a short piece for Festival Accès Asie. Éclosion started off with the desire to find different ways of using the vocabulary of Kathak. We nowadays speak a lot of bringing Indian classical dance forms into modernity – in other words, making them accessible to a contemporary audience. I feel that these forms are already evolving with time, like many other forms of dance around the world, so I don’t feel that I need Kathak to transition into modernity, but I need to make it my own. With these thoughts constantly ringing at the back of my head, Éclosion has been a way for me to discover what Kathak means to my body. For now at least…

I am so happy that Éclosion is going to be a part of the 2019 season of Tangente! Tangente is a live arts presenter in Montreal that supports innovative contemporary dance in all of its diverse, expanded, and interdisciplinary forms and aesthetic orientations. The piece is going to be extended into a 30 minute work, which is super exciting! It will be presented May 2-5 2019, in a double bill that I will be sharing with Sonia St-Michel and Julie Beaulieu. This will be my first work on such a large scale — I am very happy to have Andrea Roberts and Julia Sasso as my Outside Eyes, as well as Chantal Labonté as my lighting designer.” For more information, visit https://tangentedanse.ca/evenement/h19-alam-st-michel-beaulieu/.

Tanveer has also created a fundraising campaign to help him raise funds to pay his collaborators; if you would like to contribute, please visit: https://ca.gofundme.com/tanveer039s-solo-work-at-tangente.