In the early 1960s, Martin Luther King II announced, standing under the shadows of Abe Lincoln’s Memorial in Washington, DC, to the Blacks of the States: I have a dream… Over half a century later in the late 2010s, Vikram Iyenger too declared, standing beside the ruins of the dilapidated Gem Cinema in Central Kolkata, to the art-lovers of the eastern metropolis: I have a dream…If King had contemplated the much larger domain of freedom from the bondage of slavery for his people, the vision of Iyengar, a renowned Kathak dancer groomed under Rani Karnaa, was: “A hub for the practice, discourse and presentation of dance and movement-work in Kolkata … a space to think, know, talk, imagine dance … a home in a country that boasts of innumerable movement expressions from dance to martial arts.” He elaborated, “This is the big dream, and we invite everyone to join us on this adventure...”
Unlike the American Black’s freedom from bondage, Iyengar’s habitat for the art of dance has not yet materialized, the Gem’s site having proved to be too huge and too ramshackle, and there being no other site currently in view. Yet, Iyengar and his ‘Pickle Factory’ – a name he coined from a chance visit to a Chinese friend’s factory for manufacturing sauce – have pressed on regardless in their quest. Meanwhile, since 2018, Pickle Factory has been offering a delectable dance fair to the dilettante of the city. Only from August 2018 to October 2019, there have been 30 programmes; artistes have participated from the USA, the Philippines, Lithuania, Switzerland, China, Wales and Australia, apart from India; there have been 11 partners and 8 venues have been explored in Kolkata, Delhi and Bolpur (Shantiniketan). This critic witnessed three major events and here is the overview.
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