As I write this month's message, I learn of the earthquake in Nepal. That, alongside the dance-quake that occurred throughout India on April 29th (World Dance Day) would have been enough for an entire month of contemplation and recouping for body and spirit.
It is precisely when these natural calamities happen close to the heels of performances that we are called to question the place of the arts in our lives. In Nepal the earthquake devastated temples, precious memories of history and civilization and more than 6000 lives. (The death toll is climbing as you read this). Around the world more than 20,000 dancers must have celebrated WDD in some way or another. Social media was groaning with the avalanche of images from dancers who were celebrating in so many ways. Bangalore and Delhi were in the national spotlight with large scale events and flash mobs took shoppers in Chennai and Bombay by surprise.
In the USA, none of the major dailies or TV channels even mentioned the event. While dance is highly valued and given an independent stature in North American societies, April 29th came and went in a blur of political debate about Hillary Clinton and her push for the Presidential nomination. Hillary has a huge task ahead of her. While there is a deep divide about her political future in the White House, American TV and Film seem to be ahead of the curve about rising female power in public life. Remember the 2002 character David Palmer in the hit TV series "24"? He was an African American President and was hailed as the marker for the entry of Barrack Obama into the White House. It was widely referred to as the DAVID PALMER EFFECT. Now TV is flooded with powerful female protagonists.
You look around and women are ruling the roost. VEEP, SECRETARY OF STATE, SCANDAL, REVENGE, HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, DIVERGENT, the HUNGER GAMES series, THE REAL HOUSEWIVES series, Detective Kate Beckett in CASTLE... it goes on and on... Yet in the land of the free and home of the brave, yours truly has been already slapped with increasing racism on the streets of liberal California and eclectic New York. While drifting through a farmer's market with my friend on a lazy Saturday in Los Angeles, a cowboy boots and Prada carrying white woman walked past me (I was wearing jeans and a sweater) muttering "Brown b... ch" and in New York's Chinatown, a middle aged white man asked me how I spoke such good English being an Arab since my eyes were lined with kajal. Now really???????
Leela Samson: May 6
Mallika Sarabhai: May 8
Mrinalini Sarabhai: May 11
Kumudini Lakhia: May 17
Ramli Ibrahim: May 20
Anita Ratnam: May 21
Revathi Ramachandran: May 21
CV Chandrasekhar: May 22
Manjari Sinha: May 22
Kalamandalam Gopi: May 25
"I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself."
- Mikhail Baryshnikov
Narthaki newsletter is one of the very few platforms where Indian classical dance networking and information of such good calibre is available.
- Priti Mastakar
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