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.  

Pleased with VC's excellent dance education program and the learning curve of their students the principals of the three school have come together to host this evening’s program.

I would first of all like to thank Mrs. Madhu Sareen principal of Mahila Mandal for facilitating contact with St Mary’s and St Paul’s school for the teach-ins that took place. We are grateful to Sister Jyotsna and Father Remigius for welcoming the VC dance teachers into their respective schools and for the hospitality and warmth they have showered on us throughout the program. We are also thank Sister Jyotsna for opening up her school auditorium for this event.

I would like to add a few brief words here about my organization and the Vanaver Caravan who have partnered in this cultural exchange.

Big Medicine Charitable Trust's "mission is to build upon the best of Udaipur’s rich cultural legacies and environmental blessings in collaboration with local/global visionaries to create a 21st century model for sustainable heritage cities."

"We believe that sustainable cities acting locally and networking regionally and internationally can create ecologically sound, socially just, aesthetically rich and thriving community models that help fulfill universal human dreams and lead the world closer to a global culture of peace and non-violence."

The Vanaver Caravan has not only partnered in this cultural exchange program, it performs all over the globe. As mentioned on their website: "They have a special interest in sharing the experiences of other cultures with children – through music & dance. They have found that their approach fosters an appreciation of, and openness towards those elements of culture that students had once considered “foreign.” 

Furthermore, children respond enthusiastically to related classroom learning once they are exposed to a particular culture through its dances and songs. The child’s increased sense of self – gained by learning and performing – is one of the many benefits of this program that teachers and parents cite repeatedly.”

Vanaver Caravan director, Livia Vanaver has kindly agreed to help Big Medicine Charitable Trust develop the international dance and choreography curricula for a new project we hope to launch in Udaipur called the Shakti Academy of Dance, Circus Arts and Energy Healing. This cultural exchange is a preliminary taste of the work we would like to do together in the future in Udaipur and the US.

Finally let me introduce the amazing virtuoso Vanaver Caravan troupe members responsible for this evening's program.

Miranda Ten Broeke:
Began dancing with the Vanaver Caravan at age five and has been performing and teaching with them ever since. She is currently completing a BA in Education and Art in Community at the New School in New York.  She teaches musical and improvisational theater, social studies and improvisational play throughout New York city: at the Bank Street Children’s School, and for various other arts in education organizations.

Marina Lopez: 
Marina has studied dance with the Vanaver Caravan since age 5. Besides being fully adept in the entire Vanaver world dance repertoire she is an excellent Flamenco performer and teacher. She has traveled extensively with the VC across America and throughout the world. Marina is also an accomplished massage therapist.

Ramona Staffeld: 
Ramona has been trained and worked with the Vanaver Caravan since high school. She currently lives in Melbourne Australia but her ties with the Caravan keep her traveling on assignment with them. Ramona has had rigorous training in Swing and Vernacular Jazz arising from the Afro-American traditions of the US. She teaches internationally and has won a coveted international award for an American dance called the Lindy Hop.

Gustavo Caldez: 
Born in Salvador Bahai, Brazil, Gustavo comes from a lineage of musicians, caporistas, and dancers. His goal is to share his amazing tradition of martial arts and dance with the world. In the US he found his natural allies in the Vanaver Caravan troupe.

These introductions will be incomplete without introducing Mr. R.J Carrington who has been the photographer of this entire pilot project since the 16th of January. I am deeply grateful to him for his creative documentation of our work.

Besides their teaching Miranda, Ramona and Marina have sampled some local folk dances such as Teratalli and Sapera with the Udaipur based international dance troupe, Sayari Roots of Gypsy. 

They have also taken classes in regional cooking and massage. Gustavo has roamed the city freely making friends with every one he has met. RJ has endeared himself to many in the city through his warm portrayal of Udaipur and her people with his camera lens.

Post Script: Besides the performances by the children and Miranda, Marina, Ramona and Gustavo the VC  invited Bharat Verma's dance troupe to do one of the concluding performances of the evening, an Afro-Brazilian dance choreographed by Gustavo.

At the conclusion of the performance, Miranda invited the children and the entire audience to join her and Marina, Ramona and Gustavo in enacting a lovely poem by Tagore. It is a poem that VC always ends it programs with and coincidentally struck the perfect chord, since this year India is celebrating Tagore's 150th birth centenary.
The great Creator
Made the heavens and the earth
And the oceans and the fish
And the mountains & the birds
And the animals,
Leaping, over the face of the earth....
The great creator also made a person
But, why, should one person
Kill another person?
Are we not all children
Of one great Creator?

Miranda, Marina, Ramona, Gustavo, the children and Bharat Verma and his troupe took a bow to thunderous applause from the audience.

Sequence of Dances
  1. "Hangman's Reel" (Canadian Step Dance) - Performed by TVC members Marina, Miranda, Ramona, Gustavo
  2. "The Banyan Tree" (Indian Story Dance)- Performed by 7/8 yr old students from Mahila Mandal
  3.  "Erev Shel Shoshanim" (Israeli Folk Dance) - Performed by 14/15 yr old students from Mahila Mandal
  4. Flamenco (Spanish Folk Dance) - Performed by Marina Lopez with 14/15yr old students from Mahila Mandal
  5. 5. "Flight to the Moon" (Chinese Story Dance) - Performed by 7/8 yr old students from St Mary's.
  6. 6. Chinese Festival Ribbon Dance - Performed by 14/15 yr old students from St Mary's
  7. 7. "Tutti Frutti" (American Style Swing Dance) - Performed by Ramona Staffeld with 14/15 yr old students from St. Marys
  8. "How Many Ways to Count to Ten" (African Story Dance) - Performed by 7/8 yr old students from St Paul's
  9. "Odunday" (African Harvest Dance) - Performed by 14/15 yr old students from St Pauls
  10. Capoeira (Brazilian Martial Art Dance) - Performed by Gustavo Caldas with 14/15 yr old students from St. Paul's
  11. Afro-Brazillian Dance - Performed by Gustavo, Ramona, Miranda, Marina and Bharat Verma's Dance Troupe
  12. Poem by Tagore - Performed by ALL - The VC troupe, Miranda, Marina, Ramona, Gustavo and the audience.
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