Since 2007, Chowk Productions has painstakingly nurtured a quiet mission of transforming traditional Indian dance for Singapore’s transcultural practitioners and audiences. In these 12 years, Chowk has created a confident contemporary dance idiom drawing from movement forms indigenous to India, Indonesia and the Malay archipelago. Over the years, they have fostered a small, thriving ecology for local and regional artistic talent across a wide range of disciplines — dance, theatre, music and artistic research.
Unfortunately, Chowk has announced that its vision is no longer tenable under the present conditions in Singapore. In a heartfelt statement, Chowk said that they did not qualify for the National Arts Council (NAC) major grant. As such, they are now on the verge of ceasing all operations from June 2019.
In their statement, they said they have “managed to run independently as a lean organization with just three staff members. Our company dancers efficiently double up as managers, teachers and administrators” since 2017 with company dancers doubling up as managers, teachers and administrators. They’ve also maintained the company’s charity status and meet their basic expenses through tuition fees and by securing commissions from festival platforms locally and abroad.
Meanwhile, Chowk’s artistic work has steadily grown in quality, critical acclaim, ambition, scope and box-office success. Since 2013, Chowk has received an average of two festival commissions per year— which is a considerable feat for a small dance company.
They have been invited to perform and produce work at home and abroad, commissioned by venues and festivals in Singapore such as the Esplanade’s Kalaa Utsavam and Dan:s Festival. Chowk has toured internationally and has performed at the Les Hivernales (Winter Festival) in Avignon, Melkweg in Amsterdam, 10 days on the island in Tasmania and at Kennedy Centre in Washington DC to name a few.
Beyond these success, have also cultivated a community of dancers and dance enthusiasts that have grown with them throughout the years. Company dancers at Chowk find dedicated mentorship and the opportunity to engage professionally with practitioners and technicians from across dance styles, artistic genres and cultures.
Chowk has also quietly cultivated a loyal audience organically, so much so that they boast no less than 85% audience capacity in their shows for the past 10 years. They have event sold out all their major productions in the last 2 years.
Chowk said in their statement, “We have been so proud and privileged to have been part of this vibrant experiment of being Singaporean, of being simultaneously South Asian and Southeast Asian, of being contemporary Asians who can thread the past and future through our work. “
They continued, “The cost of governance along with the operational costs are very difficult for small companies like ours to sustain without continued funding from our patrons. We would like to play our part in making Singapore a global creative and cultural hub and we hope that our community will help drive us forward at this critical juncture.”
Chowk is now gathering up their resources to raise funds to sustain themselves until June 2019. Their farewell production, The Chowk Show, will now be a fundraiser which will be presented at the Goodman Arts Centre Black Box on April 27 and 28 April.
They are also launching an online fundraising campaign shortly—details to be confirmed.