Jonathan Hollander
Vice-President and Co-Founding Member,
Indo - American .

Jonathan Hollander
Jonathan Hollander

Artistic Director, Founder and President, Battery Dance Company
Fulbright Lecturer, India, 1992
Artistic Director & Founder, Downtown Dance Festival


For well over a decade, American choreographer Jonathan Hollander has built and maintained a busy cultural bridge between India and the U.S. He has introduced American audiences to some of the highest exponents of Indian classical dance and has helped to create a fertile ground for contemporary experimentation and collaboration by creative artists in India and the U.S.

Three months in India as a Fulbright Lecturer in Dance in 1992, a period in which Hollander taught dance workshops at Darpana, Kadamb and the M.S. University, choreographed new works on Indian dancers, collaborated with designers from the National Institute of Design, and escorted his Battery Dance Company on a 6-city tour, was the beginning of what was to become a pioneering mission.

The following year, Hollander organized the first U.S. tour by the Jhaveri Sisters Manipuri Dance Company, a UNESCO-recognized ensemble that had previously performed in 40 Countries but not America. He coordinated programs at venues such as Lincoln Center and the Smithsonian Institution where the Jhaveri Sisters brought their artistry to the Out-of-Doors Festival and inaugurated the Meyer Auditorium of the Freer & Sackler Galleries respectively. Residencies at colleges and universities across the North America brought students, scholars and the general public their first taste of the exquisite and rare Manipuri forms of music and dance.

Hollander also introduced American audiences that year to C. V. Chandrasekhar, a Renaissance Man who was later to receive India's highest award from the National Sangeet Natak Akademi. A choreographer, dancer and composer trained by Rukmini Devi Arundale at Kalakshetra in Madras, Chandrasekhar and his troupe of 12 dancers and musicians performed at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia, Baird Auditorium in Washington, Irvine-Barclay Theatre in California and in eight other cities around the U.S.

1995 was a hallmark year for Hollander's Indo-U.S. achievements in the creative vein. He curated a production that helped to re-establish the importance of India's male dancers in the classical traditions of Bharata Natyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi and Kathakali. Hollander's PURUSH: Expressions of Man, featuring 10 of India's finest male dancers and musicians, had its premiere at the Music Academy in Madras; and a week later, at the Out-of-Doors Festival at Lincoln Center, before traveling across the U.S. on an 18-city tour.

Songs of Tagore was also created that year, with choreography by Hollander, Tagore's music performed by Rabindra Sangeet exponents Samir & Sanghamitra Chatterjee, and specially composed musical interludes by American composer Gerald Cohen; with costumes and scenic design by Sandhya Raman and Anil Revri. "Songs" was to have over 75 performances in the U.S., Poland, Hungary, Finland, and throughout India and Sri Lanka; and has been credited with a revival of interest in Tagore, especially among young people, in India.

As recently as 2001, Hollander has maintained responsibility for the bringing of India's dancers to the U.S. A troupe of 22 folk dancers and musicians from Darpana Academy, the UNESCO-recognized Janavak National Folk Dance Troupe of India, performed at Lincoln Center, Rice University, and numerous theaters, festivals and universities across the U.S., continuing despite the 9/11 terrorist attacks under Hollander's careful supervision.

Hollander's fervent support for Indian dance and performing arts has not been limited to the organizing of tours. In 1998, Jonathan Hollander co-founded the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), a non-profit organization which aims to raise the platform of the Indian arts in the U.S. While on his 5th national tour of India in 2001, Hollander organized 6 "Town Meetings" with the arts communities in each region where Battery performed. He invited Aroon Shivdasani, Executive Director of the IAAC, to join him in laying the groundwork for bilateral dialogue with artists of all disciplines in Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and New Delhi.

A summary of Hollander's achievements follows

Tours of India by Battery Dance Company

1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2001 - Performances in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Khajuraho, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune, Tirupati, Trivandrum, Vadodara, Vijayawada, Vizag etc.

Artistic Projects with Indian Artists

Moonbea (1992), Seen by a River (1993), Testimony (1994), Songs of Tagore (1995), Purush (1995), Layapriya (1997), A Passage to India: The Sequel (2001)
With Musicians: Badal Roy, Samir & Sanghamitra Chatterjee, Karaikudi Mani & Musicians, Alms for Shanti
With Dancers: Mallika Sarabhai, Sucheta Chapekar, Rajika Puri, Rathna Kumar, Jothi Raghavan, Manjari Chandrasekhar, Manisha Misra, Arjun Misra, Sasidharan Nair, Keerthik Sasidharan, C.V. Chandrasekhar, Vithal Pasumarthy, O.S. Arun

Conferences and Seminars

Symposia at the Indian Consulate, New York: February, 1998
Symposia at Rice University, Houston, Texas: September, 2001
Town Meetings in Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, New Delhi: April 2001

Master classes at Schools & Universities by Battery Dance Company in India

M.S. University (Vadodara), American Studies Research Center (Hyderabad), Bombay International School and New Era School. (Mumbai), V.J.T.I. (Mumbai), Nalanda Dance Research Centre, University of Mumbai (Mumbai), Bal Bhavan (Vadodara)

Performers and Ensembles hosted by Battery Dance Company in the U.S.

Janavak (folk ensemble), Jhaveri Sisters Manipuri Dance Troupe, C.V. Chandrasekhar and Nrityashree (Bharata Natyam Dance Company), Rajan & Sajan Misra (Hindustani classical vocalists), Sucheta Chapekar (Bharata Natyam dancer & choreographer), Kerala Kalamandalam, Sasidharan Nair (Kathakali Dancers), Nirupama & Rajendra, Maulik Shah, Arjun Misra (Kathak Dancers), Vithal Pasumarthy (Kuchipudi Dancer), Indira & Meenakshi Bora (Satriya Nritya Dancers)

Guest Artists in New York City Schools

Mallika Sarabhai, Janavak, Jhaveri Sisters

"In the end, I think it is culture alone, and not political propaganda nor sociological analysis that will stem the tide of bigotry. I received the invitation to Battery Dance Company's Town Meeting in New Delhi, and when I saw Mr. Hollander's biography, I said 'this is something that we should be looking up to'. Here is someone who has opened up to cultures around the world, who has taken in so much from different cultures, and yet remained quintessentially himself. And I think that is something that we need to cherish."

Dileep Padgaonkar, Editor-in-Chief, Times of India

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