View a 30-minute film of the Transmitting Heritage project, or see below for photos, shorter videos, and narrative.
In April 2013, with support from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Dovetail Ensemble was joined by North Indian Kathak dancer Brinda Guha and tabla virtuoso Broto Roy for “Transmitting Heritage in a New World: Ways of Learning Traditional Dance and Music.” The three-day workshop focused on best practices in transmission as well as providing an opportunity for cross-cultural collaboration, and culminated in three outreach performances in Talbot County, MD. Busy Graham of Carpe Diem Arts arranged for the performances and hosted the workshop at the beautiful Shore House on Deep Creek retreat center. The workshop was facilitated by Smithsonian folklorist Stephanie Smith and Dovetail’s own ethnochoreologist Nic Gareiss. Kimberley R. Williams of American University filmed the project.
All photos by Josh Kohn, (c) Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, unless otherwise noted. Video clips by Kimberley R. Williams.
The workshop started with each artist presenting their tradition in a 75-minute session, with a focus on how each person learned their art and how they pass it on. This included stories, demonstrations, participatory learning and lively Q&As. Conversations over meals, facilitated by the two folklorists, inquired into topics such as heritage vs. tradition and the boundaries, shared values, and distinctions between “classical” and “traditional” music.
Artistic exploration in duos was the next stage. Each artist worked in two duos, drawn by lot, and then a quartet with new partners. The big house on the shore was filled with energy, experiments, laughter, and moments of awe. The next day we built on these explorations to put together a performance program that demonstrated traditional roots and our new branches.
We performed for the community of Claiborne at the Claiborne Village Hall; at the Chesapeake Center, a workplace for adults with disabilities; and at Talbot County Senior Center. Each audience responded very enthusiastically to the wealth of music and dance, and to the intense joy we found in performing together.
And then we had to say goodbye, but each artist went away feeling very much enriched and inspired with new ideas. We’re grateful to Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Carpe Diem Arts, the Talbot County Arts Council, and to Freyda’s Hands’ generous donors, for making this invigorating project possible. Very special thanks to Busy Graham: gracious host, knowledgeable emcee, and indefatigable supporter of the arts in community, and to the Graham/Hickman family for sharing the extraordinary setting.