BWW Interviews: Shunya Series - Choreographers and Dancers Talk JUNGLE BOOK
In this installment, I talk to choreographers Tina Bose Kumar and Kiron Kumar of Infused Performing Arts. I also talk to three of their young dancers Avi Vir, Avilash Bhongir, and Bani Sandhu aka the monkey pack.
Hey, Hey It's The Monkeys
BWW: How was it playing monkeys?
Bani Sandhu: Uhhh... Good. [Everyone Laughs]
BWW: What is the best part of playing a monkey?
Bani Sandhu: You get to be goofy.
Avi Vir: I get to be myself.
Avilash Bhongir: Yes, exactly.
Avi Vir: We get to be ourselves. To just express our feelings.
BWW: What do you think this play is about?
Avi Vir: One word: anarchy. [Everyone Laughs]
BWW: So tell me how you went about designing the choreography for this production?
Tina Bose Kumar: Well, we listened to music and talked to the directors to see what we were trying to portray, really, with each song. It's kind of different because they're animals. We have to make the movements as such that it represents both the human characters as well as the animal characters.
BWW: What sort of music did you listen to?
Kiron Kumar: They have their own music for this entire play. They have a live band coming on the stage. It's a challenge but at the same time it's a good thing as well. So, we work around that music and we know, kind of, how to choreograph according to the actor and the scene.
BWW: Where there any dance styles that you were inspired by?
Kiron Kumar: We both are Bollywood dance instructors, Indian style, and we have a dance company, Infused Performing Arts, so yes. We mainly go with the music. If the music demands a specific style, we will go with that.
Tina Bose Kumar: One of the songs was salsa inspired and another one's swing. I think another one was alternative. We're pretty much showing a lot of different styles because each song is very, very different. The music really inspires the dance.
BWW: What inspires you?
Kiron Kumar: Since we are both dance instructors, we work with kids all the time [Laughs]. The inspiration would be of course the play and the music for sure.
Tina Bose Kumar: We really try to come to the space not prepared. We want to see what the kids and the characters bring so we can play to their strong suits and really make the play about them and what the play is supposed to bring and show to the audience.
BWW: What did you find most challenging when you were choreographing this play?
Kiron Kumar: We should not be
choreographing in such a way that it steals the show. It has to be a part of the show. The
main importance is the drama and the acting. We have to choreograph in such a way that it gels with the show.
BWW: Did you choreograph movements for the non-dancers in the production?
Kiron Kumar: Yes. [Tina Laughs] Most of them. I think all the main actors may not have the dancing background but we make it seem like they all dance to the same beat and music.
BWW: How did you do that?
Tina Bose Kumar: We broke it down and made sure they knew what character they were playing. When they are dancing, it's supposed to be uniform while staying true to their own character within the song. We just have to make sure that we first break down the steps and make sure they're playing their character as they're dancing.
BWW: Why should Houston audiences see the play?
Tina Bose Kumar: I think it's going to be so entertaining, so different because it's featuring kids and adults. And the story is The Jungle Book, which everybody is kind of familiar with. But it's in a different way. So when people come and see it, they'll be expecting it to be the JUNGLE BOOK that we've all grown up watching. It's not going to be like that. It's going to be a really great twist and I think they're going to have a lot of fun watching it because of the
songs, the dance and great actors.
To see the previous installment of the series, click here.
Last weekend folks to see Shunya Theatre's production of THE JUNGLE BOOK! The production runs from August 8th to August 17th (Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM) at The Barn, 2201 Preston Street, Houston, TX 77003. For more info about tickets, pricing and Shunya Theatre, visit www.shunyatheatre.org. For more information about The Barn visit dancesourcehouston.org.