Hello Everyone! Unfortunately as I have been traveling a lot I have not been able to update here as regularly as I would have liked to. The first 10 days of my tour were a bit hectic – travel, teaching and performing left me with little time to think, let alone write. At the moment am enjoying a bit of downtime before leaving for the next workshop in Barcelona.
My Europe travels began a couple of years ago in the Spring of 2015 – the first time I had been back in over ten years – I had never imagined that trip would be the first of many and that I would somehow (quite miraculously) find my perfect ‘fit’ in the process. My travels to Europe often remind of the things I have experienced as a dancer in the USA. In many of the places I have travelled to, Odissi, and Indian classical arts and culture for that matter, remain on the fringes. Barring few exceptions, it is very difficult to create and sustain an interest in Odissi when the general knowledge of and access to Indian culture is so limited. Moreover in places that are lucky enough to have qualified teachers to provide instruction, the process of learning and imbibing the dance form is so far removed from the mainstream dance experience that it becomes very difficult to retain students. For those that are able to sustain a regular group of committed dancers, there is then the issue of engaging and building local audiences. Of course these are only some of the many many difficulties that dancers face, particularly those that stay in larger metro areas where things like studio rental, competition with other events/classes, limited time, and cost of living present an entirely different host of issues. I have had many interesting conversations with students, teachers, performers, and academics about these challenges and the larger implications behind the choices they make in the process. It is inspiring to see the level of commitment and sheer tenacity that people have to learn and promote Odissi and other Indian classical arts in their respective countries and each time I travel I always try to explore the different channels through which I can support these efforts. I always tell my students and colleagues that it is an exciting time to promote the Indian classical arts, despite the many challenges, because it is an opportunity to not only think outside the box (of ‘performer’ and ‘teacher’), but also to truly be a pioneer of one’s respective art form locally.
Somewhere in Spain. May 2, 2017.