Published: 09th January 2019
Dance should be available to everyone who has a passion for the art: Dimitri Chamblas, Dean of Dance at CalArts
French choreographer Dimitri Chamblas, Dean of Dance at CalArts, visited India to motivate students who are willing to chuck the stereotypical career choices and take up an unconventional path
For a choreographer who joined the Paris Opera’s celebrated dance school at the age of ten, and created the "research and writing residence”, an occasion for artists to create personal creative space outside of the traditional production process along with Mathilde Monnier (actual director of the Centre National de la Danse), people would usually think he would scoff at the idea of visiting Indian school students. But, Dimitri Chamblas takes dance very seriously.
Dimitri, who is currently the Dean of Dance at the California Institute of Arts, recently visited India to motivate and encourage students who are willing to break the stereotypical career choices. Dimitri visited the Heritage Xperiential Learning School (HXLS), Gurgaon to conduct an exclusive Masterclass in Contemporary Dance composition with dance students at HXLS as well as from other schools in Delhi NCR last month. Apart from the workshop, Dimitri also auditioned students for admission to CalArts for undergraduate degree programs in dance.
We caught up with Dimitri after his session to know more about what it takes to pursue a career in performing arts. Excerpts from an interesting conversation...
How important are extra-curricular activities nowadays when students are often seen choosing unconventional career paths?
When one is admitted to CalArts they will not only learn to dance. The courses also include another discipline such as dance and theatre, dance and cinema, dance and creative writing, dance and voice training etc. So, a student may enter the institute for one reason but then they are provided with an opportunity to learn much more than that. That is definitely going to open one's mind to more possibilities for their whole life.
Dance to express: Dimitri visited the Heritage Xperiential Learning School (HXLS), Gurgaon to conduct an exclusive Masterclass in Contemporary Dance composition
Given your experience and expertise in dance, how would you say dance imparts a sense of discipline in students?
When you learn to dance, many factors are developed, enhanced, and engaged all together. Dancing brings perfect harmony to our mind, body, and soul. While dance is a creative art, it can teach people to be together, how to communicate, trust and channel their emotions better. These are important components for students to learn, it also teaches hard work and creativity, because at the end of the day what will make you special is your own creativity. All that they learn will also make them grow and teach them discipline and help them to become more creative in their every day lives.
Tell us more about your venture, Studio Dimitri Chamblas
Dance is something that lives within me. Obviously, it needs a lot of hard work and passion. That's what led to the launch of Studio Dimitri Chamblas, a structure that hosts all of my projects and collaborations — a duet with the star dancer Marie-Agnès Gillot, my participation in the new creation of Boris Charmatz premiered at the Volksbühne in Berlin and a creation with architect François Perrin and François Dallegret for the Performa Biennial in New York.
When a dancer enters CalArts, they enter the dance world. We regard our students as the new generation of dancers contributing to the artistic culture of Los Angeles and beyond
Dimitri Chamblas, Dean of Dance, California Institute of Arts
You also auditioned students for admission, what qualities do you generally look for in them?
I mainly look for students who are committed, who have a very strong passion, who are hard workers and who are very creative as that is what matters the most. Creativity is vital. Their creative abilities will bring out their uniqueness and we really want to foster that. Students who later want to pursue a career in performing arts must have individual vision, desires and at the same time, they should be able to live and work together as a part of a team.
Private institutions, coaching centres charge exorbitant amounts of money to teach performing arts, as a dance expert how are you making the art more accessible?
The dance workshop that I conducted here in India was for free and we do such workshops in the US and Europe as well. My close friend Benjamin Millepied, the former New York City Ballet Principal and Director of the Paris Opera Ballet, founded the LA Dance Project (LADP) in 2012, and last October opened a rehearsal, performance and residency space in the downtown arts district. A new initiative by CalArts in partnership with LADP is taking the form of public workshops, conversations, and open studio performances for the community of dancers in LA. We are looking forward to many such ventures.
I feel that school should not be a bubble. When a dancer enters CalArts, they enter the dance world. We regard our students as the new generation of dancers contributing to the artistic culture of Los Angeles and beyond. Dance as a performing art should be made available to everyone who has the passion for it. I also intend to create a big digital platform for dance with live courses and publications, which will be accessible to more people around the world.