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Meet MMDF2020's Major Commisioned Artist

Making Moves Dance Festival 2020 features 11 NYC based companies in contemporary influenced dance styles including Ballet, Afro-Latin, East Asian, Middle Eastern, Afro-Caribbean, East Indian, and more. The brilliant lineup is highlighted by Rohan Bhargava and the Rovaco Dance Company, this year's Major Commission. Bhargava’s artistic vision for his piece will focus on giving audiences a glimpse into contemporary Indian narratives through an array of movement, music and immersive theatrical elements.

Ahead of his upcoming performances, we spoke with Rohan Bhargava about his inspiration, and what we should expect in MMDF2020. Check it out below and be sure to RSVP to the free event here:

1. What inspired you to commit to being an artist? How did you choose dance as your art form? Our audience would love to hear about the key moments that influenced you to pursue dance as a career.

It is impossible to grow up in India and be separated from dance as it is mixed into all aspects of life including religion, marriage, entertainment, and culture. Moreover, the sprawling Bollywood industry, with its characteristic musical storytelling, has ensured a widespread appreciation for music and dance. Ever since I was 4 years old, I have felt an innate need to express my emotions through movement. Of course I don't remember this but my family won't let me forget how I put up ticketed dance shows in the living room and demanded everyone attend! I really do have to thank my parents for translating this passion into a concrete career path. They enrolled me into Jazz dance classes at the age of 7 and have supported my career choice ever since.

2. What are special elements of your work from your upcoming performance that you'd like to share with us?

Recently, my work has focused on discovering, analyzing, and celebrating my Indian culture while creating a safe space for contemporary Indian artists to explore their identity and artistic voice. In the September showing of Making Moves Dance Festival, you will see aspects of this mission in the company's movement language, musical score, costumes, and storytelling. One of the works is actually a reimagination of an older work from 2015 and the other is a new work-in-progress that will be completed as part of MMDF's commissioning program in December 2020. I will also be participating in a post-performance Q&A on September 26th as part of the festival.

3. What offers you inspiration for your work? What are the things in your "universe" that give you motivation to make your work?

My work translates quotidian gestures and motions into fully embodied phrases drawing from floorwork, release technique, contemporary partnering, and improvisation. This is accompanied by theatrical narratives told through recognizably human characters who, through the exhilarating lens of their virtuosity, unearth the cathartic in the everyday.

Rovaco repertory has captured themes of relationships, intimacy, sex, power dynamics, and addiction under capitalism, as well as the queer experiences of each. Recently, the company has delved into issues of misrepresentation, cultural appropriation, and racism with a focus on the Indian subcontinent.

4. What are your goals and aspirations going forward as a dancer; an artist?

I notice Western dance choreographers incorporating traditional Indian aesthetics to present a modern fusion of India but the actual experience of a 21st century Indian is entirely missing from the picture. I want to address this lack of authentic representation, encouraging people to think about their relationship to their culture, how they consciously or subconsciously embody it, and how they interact with cultures of other communities.

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