Adventures In India

27 September, 2008


Every time I make a new work there are always tears somewhere along the way.
I begin a process, an idea, with such excitement, enthusiasm, and rigour. And then, as I delve into it and try to find its shape I become anxious, uncertain and questioning. There is always a point in the process at which I loose all perspective, where I feel completely lost and uncertain of myself, my ideas, and why I am attempting to do what I do. Once the work finds its shape ad is ‘completed’ the initial excitement floods back, along with a satisfaction of having found a form to voice myself and the ideas I feel most passionately about. The journey on the way though, this uncertain place, is so painful(!) and I have often wondered if I can find an easier pathway through it. Can I soften the process, or soften myself to not take it on so much, so personally, so emotionally. Can I be able to enjoy the process of questioning and uncertainty and let go of the panic of control-less-ness I feel, and that I find so challenging.

But then recently I have come to the conclusion that perhaps, in some ways, this process is natural, and powerful. When do people get the chance, on a regular basis in their lives, to question themselves, their ideas or their society, and to have the opportunity, the structure, or the form to question and re-assess in a ‘safe’ way? Usually these moments occur at turning points in one’s life, often following a disaster or tragic event. But I, as an artist, get to go through the process, or am forced to go through the process, on a regular basis. This shedding of skin, of gaining a stronger understanding of oneself, one’s place in the world and one’s sense of truth, happiness and purpose is an incredible gift offered to the life of an artist.

Adventures In India

25 September, 2008

“This world is inhabited by all kinds of people. They are isolated by land and water, religion, customs, habits. The minds and hearts of these people are much alike. Under sudden or stressed emotions, they blossom forth or explode in riots, fights, dance, song, prayer. At such times, they become one mind, one heart. And the world vibrates with the intensity of their feelings, emotions, angers, laughters.”     – Gandhi

Thought this was an appropriate message to send out into the world with tonight being the opening of the company’s ‘Natarani’ theater season for 2008-2009. The dancers and musicians will perform their new work about Gandhi.

Adventures In India

22 September, 2008


An American man’s home was raided immediately following the recent Ahmedabad bombings following a connection between his computer and an email claiming responsibility for the blasts. The director of the organization hosting me has, in the past, had to flee the country after being threatened by mobs outside her home for making comments about the state government’s treatment of the 2001 riots. And then we see the law-changing that has occurred in the United States Government over the past few years during the “War on Terror” where people have been stripped of their privacy, with other countries following in their footsteps.
All this makes me acutely aware of and question my own privacy. In a cyber-connected world where information flows in what one feels it is a democratic space, as I publish my articles the question of surveillance always weighs on my mind. There are many things I’m learning about this country’s history – distant and recent that infuriate me, anger me, frighten me, upset me and impassion me to say something. (Don’t get me wrong, this country is winning my heart more and more each day with its vibrant beauty and warmth but, like any culture, it has its good and bad. Nothing is black or white but usually comes in all shades of grey!) But then I second guess myself and wonder who might be reading. What if I said something offensive to someone with more power than I. Why on earth should someone in this world have more power than I do when it comes to freedom of speech? The notion of this maddens me. But all the same I have monitored this space and not written in some thoughts that I have had. And, just as I wrote in my entry on fear, I hate that the people who are using fear through surveillance to paralyse us, to hold us back, to stop us, to silence us, have an effect on me, even in some small way.
For now, I am holding my thoughts, searching for the best way to send them into the world. Perhaps they’ll end up being danced.

Adventures In India

16 September, 2008

Yesterday I went to the zoo. I swear there were more people staring at me than at the animals. I am an exotic and rare species.  Though I’m fortunately not stuck in a cage. It’s an odd feeling being stared at as a specimen. I’ve always found the idea of a zoo a bizarre thing. I mean, zoo’s are wonderful institutions in the way they preserve and protect and give value to animal life, and in the way they give people an opportunity to connect to nature. But my question is why have we removed ourselves so much from nature that we need to cage it up in little bits and pieces in order to experience it? Why are we so disconnected from the natural world? Why/ how/ when did we lose our ability to live within it? And how can we feel so ok with this?

“I have nothing to teach the world. Truth and non-violence are as old as the hills” Gandhi

There was another terrorist serial blast in India this weekend. This time in Dehli.
I hold on tightly to Gandhi’s words.

Adventures In India

4 September, 2008

Experiences so far….
Yoga daily
Learning Kelari
Invited to watch a traditional south Indian wedding (in North India!)
Watched a Bollywood Horror in the cinema at midnight!
Practicing my “Kemcho” and “Majamas”
Finding that this is a “dry state” in which everyone seems to drink!
Eating chai and chapatti on the kitchen floor of my friend’s uncle’s son’s house in the old city.
Finding myself with superstar status on the streets of the city.
Seeing 100’s of versions of Lord Krishna (…and its only just the beginning)
Visited the Ghandi Ashram to be inspired by one of the most amazing figures in history
Finding an Aussie Cookie store. Didn’t know that’s what we’re famous for!?!? I guess in a vegetarian state a good-ol- Aussie BBQ probably wouldn’t go down so well.
Watched the Darpana company pull together a brand new show, from conception to production, costumes and all, in 8 days. (The work is based on Khadi, the traditional handmade clothing of India promoted by Gandhi as a non-violent resistance to the oppression from the British. These days it proves its worth again offering sustainability to the environment (a very eco friendly product with very little waste and no synthetic products used in the process) as well as local communities (providing the community with jobs and income).)

About to…
Go on tour with the company for a week. I’ll see 5 cities in 6 days whilst the company continues on to perform in 18 cities in 20 days! And India is not a small country!