Educate to Engage: Building New Audiences

In a few days, I will be leaving for a 1-month dance tour of Europe. I having been doing these tours for the last couple of years, traveling to different cities to present Odissi through performances, workshops and lecture-demonstrations.  My time in Europe has been an incredibly eye-opening experience on many levels, and is something I look forward to every year. Besides the opportunity to visit and learn about these beautiful countries with their vast histories and culture, it is particularly interesting to understand the relationship between Indian culture and performing arts in the local cultural context.

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Negotiating Values

Of late, I have been thinking a lot about the implications of cultural values in the in the teaching/learning process. When I started my dance training in the US/Canada, the system under which I learned was more or less on the conservative side, I imagine it was [somewhat] modeled after the Guru-Shishya parampara system in India. The expected behaviors were made clear from the very beginning: how we addressed our teachers/Gurus, how we treated the physical dance space, our dress, attitudes, etc. The learning expanded beyond the classroom and permeated into our day-to-day lives. Even from a young age we had to learn to develop the necessary discipline to incorporate dance into our daily activities. Our teachers/Gurus had a much larger role in our lives than just learning movements in a classroom. When I began traveling to India, transitioning into that system was not that difficult since that grounding had been established from early on. Despite having been born and raised outside of India, I never questioned the system under which I learned, rather I rationalized it as part of the process of the classical arts and accepted it as the way, really the only way to imbibe the essence of the art form. I learned what I was taught and left it to my teachers to determine what I would learn and when. I completely surrendered to this system with full faith.

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SonaliChaukaHello Readers!!! I am so happy to finally launch ‘odissinomad,’ – a blog that I have been thinking about for the last couple of years to finally put to the page my own personal journey in dance, and some of the questions and concerns I have along the way. For those of you who read ‘Global Rasika,’ [] this is far less academic/research – oriented and more of my own personal musings, though I do imagine there will be some overlap here and there as far as some of these issues are concerned. So yes, it is a bit of an indulgence, but one that I hope others may find engaging. Welcome to my virtual world, and Happy Reading!

Bhubaneswar: April 10, 2017