Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blood, sweat and cheers

Highlight teaching pics from R.J. Partington's Udaipur Dance Diary

Miranda's opening Namaste at Mahila Mandal

Reaching for the stars at Mahila Mandal

Friday, February 17, 2012

Udaipur Press Reactions

 Online report from

Vanaver Caravan Dances at Hulchul Cafe

Click above for full article

Feature article from Rajasthan Patrika
Partial clip
World Dance Traditions on Stage
Rajasthan Patrika Newspaper
January 28th 2012

* A Program of International Dances
* In step with dancers from America and Brazil

Udaipur's Big Medicine Charitable Trust organized an evening of international dances on Thursday January 27th at St Mary Girl’s Senior Secondary School, Fatehpura. At this event we saw folk dances from various parts of the globe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Miranda Ten Broeke - on the Sustainable Power of Dance in Human Community

It strange to write about my time in a far off place, when I feel like I haven't really left. My biggest goal over the next nine months is to be present in New York and not just think about how much I miss India and how excited I am to go back in December. I am constantly comparing my crisp New York life to the fluid, movement-filled life I made during my brief time in India. All the energy that fueled this pilot project tingles around me like one of those dreams that you can't forget but at the same time, can't quite remember. I have to force myself to work on homework, to be grounded while teaching my students in NYC, to not constantly view everything here through eyes that are secretly skimming my mind for images of India. 

Back in the Fall I applied for the grant through my school which would fund my journey to Udaipur. The prompt for the essay was about creating sustainable relationships in India and, during my interview I was asked, somewhat skeptically, about how dance could even be sustainable. I answered confidently that dance is one of the strongest, most naturally sustainable forces in this world. It has evolved with people since the beginning of time--providing community enrichment, and often defining culture. The dances and songs that the Vanaver Caravan has learned have been passed down cross-culturally and cross-generationally for hundreds of years. 

This trip to India particularly highlighted how sustainable and prosperous dance can be. During this tour, our main objective was to create a program which could sustain itself after we left. It was ambitious. We had three weeks to implement something huge and we had no idea how these schools would take to us. They welcomed us with open-arms, gracious hearts, excitement, and (of course) delicious chai. I can say, with all confidence, that we were able to create a solid foundation, and a number of very strong partnerships. We did come to India to perform a few gigs and teach a workshop or two--we came with a  with a mission to create a cycle of opportunity and creativity which drew upon the wealth of knowledge and pure joy that dance has to offer.

We left feeling like we had fulfilled that mission. And we left filled with a new enthusiasm for the projects and adventures to come. Thank you to all the members of our new Indian family. You are my home away from home and I am so grateful to everyone who helped make this pilot project a miraculous reality!

Marina Lopez - Looking Back ...........Looking in..........

It was a gray, bone chilling day in early February, a year ago. The snow and rain hadn't let up for a days and things had begun to ice over. Bill Vanaver (one of the directors of The Vanaver Caravan) casually asked me if I were going to India. India? What could he possibly be talking about? He briefly explained the project and I knew immediately that I wanted in. I had to find a way to be apart of what was about to unfold before my eyes. I spent the coming months immersed in thoughts of India and figuring out how to get there. 

Now, it's February 15, 2012 and I've returned from India where the strings of my soul were plucked in the most harmonious way. People ask, "Was it life-changing?" Yes, absolutely. The lingering question of my early twenties, “What am I doing with my life?” has become, “How do I continue doing this with my life? How do I nurture it, feed it and keep it growing?” No doubt that patience and presence are key in creating order to the letters that paint words into beautiful images; answers. Each moment, like the careful hands of an artist sculpted and re-shaped the project as we went along. I left with an awakening inspiration and deep-pitted motivation to continue what we've only barely begun. 
Not even in the deepest, craziest forest of my imagination could I have created this. The seeds we planted with this program will grow into so much more than a simple cultural exchange. It reaches far beyond choreography and timing. It challenges the barriers of structure and breaks them down. Class and fear are replaced by curiosity, respect and exploration of the unknown, rounding the flavor of life. 
I am thankful and proud of all the children for embodying and breathing life into the movements we worked so hard to share with them. For sculpting smiles on the anxious faces of every person who had the privilege of watching them. For all of the Dancers, Principals, Teachers, Coordinators for being courageous and feeding this project with faith in ourselves, the children, and the community. 
My heart sat heavily in my chest with that awkward knot rising up into my throat when I bid farewell to the people who became family. Like an ocean’s tide, ecstasy and grief rose and fell in my body. We lay a solid foundation on which a strong structure can be designed and built. I am excited to keep on this path and build on this beautiful work.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Udaipur Feedback on BMCT-VC World Dance Pilot Project

Bharat Verma Dance Academy

Training in Afro-Brazilian Dance
On behalf of The Bharat Verma Dance Academy and its troupe members I would like to thank you and your organisation for including me and my students in your pilot project with the wonderful VANAVER CARAVAN dance company.  It was an honour and a nice experience to work with the 4  V.C. troupe members. They are fantastic teachers and performers.  We came across several  new dance styles through them. They gave us six two-hour workshops and taught us: Maculeyle,  Swing Dance, Free Style Contemporary, Hangman’s Reel and shared some tips on Capoeira.  They were all so friendly and patient.  We hope work with them again in future.

Thanks a lot again to Big Medicine Charitable Trust and The Vanaver Caravan troupe members.

Bharat Verma, 
Dancer / Choreographer

Mahila Mandal 

Mahila Mahal Dance Project Participants
More proud "grads"

Dear Rita
It was a great experience to have the Vanaver Caraven Group members-Miranda,Marina,Ramona,Gustavo and RJ, the photographer.The group taught the dances in an amazing manner.They taught all the steps in a  very simplified manner and lovingly.

Although my school is Hindi medium, their way of teaching was such  that every child could learn it easily. The language was not barrier at all.

Rita, I am personally grateful to you for bringing this group which definitely brought change in children by making them more confident .This will help in a long way to strengthen their cultural bridges to the wider world.
We hope to get your co-operation in the future too.
(Madhu Sareen Principal Mahila Mandal Indigenous Girl's Senior Secondary School, Udaipur)

St. Mary’s 
Proud young artist participants from St. Mary's

Our school had the unique privilege of having the BMCT/TVC Pilot Cultural Exchange Programme in the month of January 2012.

On behalf of Vanaver Caravan, New Paltz, New York, USA there were three teachers Miranda ten Brocks, Marina Lopez, Ramona Staffeld who taught different dances to 33 students of St. Mary’s Convent Sec. School, Udaipur. Despite lack of time the trainers managed to train the students in making the show a success. The performance was scintillating and dashing. It was a feast of the audience to witness such an extraordinary cultural exchange programme. On the whole the performance was memorable and liked by one and all.

I, too, among others had the honour of witnessing this programme. I thank all the teachers and the coordinator Rita Dixit-Kubiak.

We look forward to have such an enriching cultural exchange programme.

Anne Lobo  
St. Mary’s Sr. Sec. School

  Bhargav Mistry

at the Mistry's dinner table

The Vanaver Caravan came, saw and conquered.. Thanks to the BMCT and Premilla, Rita & David Kubiak’s inexhaustible efforts to make the almost impossible, a raving success. So far, so good. The dynamic troupe of four, Miranda, Mariana, Romano and Gustavo left a mark with each one they met and exposed their art to, and that will be remembered forever. We all pray that this is just the beginning and more is yet to come. I have had the opportunity to see them perform and interact in various different situations and in each they excelled both in performance and in interaction with the varied audience. Rare are such artistes.

Such interaction was indeed a cultural exchange. While  VC taught at three schools and a dance studio in Udaipur, they in turn took several folk dance workshops with the Sayari Roots of Gypsy Dance Troupe who are internationally known. The synergy would give opportunity for both the troupes to work together in the future in the US and Canada. It is creditable that BMCT made this connection possible.

Under the instructions of Purvi Mistry, Marina, Miranda and Ramona took several cooking classes, focusing mainly around Ayurvedic methods. This experience for them was most beneficial and magnificent. Likewise, Marina also took training in Ayurvedic massage from a local therapist.

BMCT's setting up of this pilot project in Udaipur helped Miranda, a student of New School (NY) in education art and community, be honored with a scholarship to participate in the pilot project. It also invoked an invitation from Manish Jain of Shikshanter for an informal performance where I met the VC for the first time. It was their first public performance in Udaipur and these `culture ambassadors' needed nothing more to win the hearts of the spell bound audience.  Fortunately, VC had RJ Parrington to document the entire tour and this hopefully will go a long way in helping the troupe to raise funds for the future.

All in all, this pilot project has benefited one and all as can be seen from the responses of the city of Udaipur, schools and other organizations. I wish them grand success in their future endeavors with doors wide open for their return.

Bhargav Mistry
(Designer/Musician & BMCT adviser for Shakti Academy of Dance, Circus Arts & Energy Healing)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

World Dance Recital by/for Udaipur Kids

Text of our Speech at the Project Finale

It is with great gratitude that I address this gathering of parents, friends and Udaipur citizens from the various government and non-government institutions and businesses. You have taken the time to come on very short notice to this rather unique performance of world dances by 101 school kids between the ages of 6 to 8 and 14 to 16. 

This event today marks the end of a very brief world dance training program our team sponsored for Mahila Mandal Girls Senior Higher Secondary School, St Mary Girls Senior Higher Secondary School and St Paul’s Senior Higher Secondary School

The music and dance for the program was primarily developed by Livia Vanaver, artistic director of  New York's renowned world dance ensemble, the Vanaver Caravan (unfortunately not here today) and Miranda Ten Broeke, a Vanaver troupe veteran here with us tonight. The three other VC troupe members, Marina Lopez, Ramona Staffeld and Gustavo Caldez also present have also contributed  in developing several of the spontaneous choreographic marvels you will  see this evening.  

Vanaver Caravan Team Feedback

Ramona Staffeld

Ramona on the Afro American dance tradition

Thanks to Big Medicine Charitable Trust and the Vanaver Caravan, I was honored to be part of the beginning of something truly grand. In retrospect I can understand it more fully. It is now I see that we offered so much more than dance steps, choreography and a chance to perform. We set an example of a way to be in the world. A style that has clear direction yet breath and expansive possibilities. The creative spirit leads us all and informs our approach to teaching. We are alternative, our content shows that, our clothing shows that, our hearts speak a language that can be understood by all, compassion. This offering is at the heart of our work.

The Community as the Enabler

It is with great delight and gratitude that I observe it was the logistical and in-kind support of friends and family that enabled Big Medicine Charitable Trust, Udaipur and Vanaver Caravan to launch a world dance education pilot project in three Udaipur schools and a pilot dance studio.
Gustavo, Rita, R.J., Ramona, Marina & Miranda
I was personally supported during our extended work in Udaipur to organize this project by the kind donations of : Mark Phillips, Radha Case, Lin Zhou, Asa Kubiak and Kathy Sokol Kubiak.

At Laxmi's house with the Sufi singers
Photo courtesy R.J. Partingon lll
    At Purvi Bhargav's dinner table after
one of her a cooking classes.

I would like to thank Big Medicine USA founder director David Kubiak and Larry Dansinger, director of ROSC Big Med's fiscal sponsor for facilitating this Vanaver/BMCT collaboration as a fresh step in East-West cultural synergy, artistic co-creation and educational exchange..