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!