Trailer -FROM THE ATTIC>Hello from Los Angeles:
Pursuing dance academically has been a long term dream, almost an extension of my otherwise questioning mind even as a performer. Researching for over six years on the “Past performing traditions” for a doctoral research allowed me to discover many missing and vital links that give the dance of Bharatanatyam it’s present form. My understanding that the oldest South Indian classical dance and musical forms have been assimilated from various world cultures over centuries and my substantiating the same along with reconstructing each repertoire in its older form as it were performed four/five hundred years ago not only earned me my doctoral degree but also widespread attention and appreciate from the academic world of dance history.
When I heard back from the prestigious UCLA’s World Arts Cultures/ Dance department (http://www.wacd.ucla.edu/) that they wanted to invite me as a visiting scholar to not just teach for a few semesters but also pursue my post doctoral work, I was thrilled.
Then happened the other big dream: The Fulbright fellowship. While I was a Graduate student years ago, I attended a Fulbright fair that usief had conducted. (http://www.usief.org.in/) Right there, I decided that I would apply for the Fulbright not as a student scholar but after completing my doctorate as a fellow. I worked from January 2013 towards my goal of looking up the Fulbright program, speaking to earlier fulbrighter-s, connecting with various universities here in the US and preparing my project proposal. I think it was the clarity of my vision combined with a strong letter of invitation sent by UCLA expressing interest in having me come as a Fulbright fellow to teach “past performing practices” that won me the fellowship.
The dilemma for a busy performing artiste whose is also a director of my own School of performing arts was how to take this opportunity without jeopardising my Indian commitments for the months that I’m going to be away here. Dance is an art where the student needs continued mentoring from the Guru (teacher). But I have worked doubly the past year in preparing my students for my absence. I have mentored them towards personal goals to achieve while am away and allowed space for group works that they can create under the dynamic leadership of Other Ranga Mandira staff and senior students. This will be a good time for them to “take charge” and feel empowered. It has the advantage of making them feel responsible towards their future as a serious performing artiste.
With invitations from other universities and departments (Asian studies,race and ethnic studies, anthropology etc) to give guest lectures, short performances and to present papers, here I am at Los Angeles as a Representative of the arts world of South India. My goal is not only to show the American dance student, community and connoisseur the grandeur of our art but also speak to them and demonstrate the inherent inclusiveness and secularism in our arts. Bharatanatyam, which was called Sadir until the beginning of 21st century has a cultural memory that has assimilated from world cultures like Persian, English, Dutch, Danish, maharashtrian (North india), and American and many more.
From today I embark upon my journey here in this land of opportunities, to teach and explore. I’m excited is an understatement. I’m humbled by this wonderful opportunity that is bestowed upon me. I think it is the quality of this art, the greatness of my gurus and their methodology and my hard work that has brought me here.
This land must take from me and delight in its participation in dance history of south india and give me opportunities that will benefit the hereditary artistes and arts and therefore the generations ahead to foster this shared links between us.
Jai ho! And Godspeed.
This is my opening note on 10/07/2014 and will blog my experiences from time to time. I leave you all with a link to a trailer of my work FROM THE ATTIC which encapsulates my entire work, parts of which I’m going to teach, perform and lecture about as a Fulbright-er.
Attic in dreamland