Help us launch a beautiful film, a virtuoso dance tour
and a unique new school in India - all at once!


About this project

Our Mission
Launch a single project that simultaneously kickstarts a beautiful film, an unprecedented intercultural dance exchange, and a creative shrine to the body electric in India's most romantic town.

Our Situation
We, the Big Medicine Charitable Trust (BMCT), do eco-social education projects in Udaipur, Rajasthan where we're also working to build a new kind of local/global body energy school that sustains traditions, provokes innovation, and offers gifted needy kids the best dance skills of the world.

Our first allies were New York's internationally acclaimed Vanaver Caravan (VC), an astonishing performance troupe and an innovative pioneer in children's dance education. They offered to come help us and we showed their work to Shilpgram Utsav, India's biggest, coolest folk art festival held in Udaipur each year. Utsav organizers were blown away and asked VC to dance for an hour in their Dec 2011 Grand Finale. VC is the first foreign group ever invited to these festivals, which feature hundreds of great Indian artists, but don't have any budget yet for international stars..

Given this historic invitation, the opportunities it offers for east/west synergy, and VC's resolve to help Udaipur start a unique dance academy, we felt it would be incredibly valuable, instructive and exciting to film their whole odyssey and share it with the world.

Our Ask
We therefore request your assistance to create "Helping Shakti Rise" a film that will enable and record the journey of a dozen global dance virtuosos to star in India's greatest folk festival, conspire with local masters, and help launch a world-class dance school for aspiring Rajasthani youth.

We are raising about half the needed amount with VC fundraiser performances and other efforts, but still need $30,000 to make the whole thing work. Donations exceeding that amount will be given to the dance academy to fund local scholarships and spread the model elsewhere.


The destination and setting is Rajasthan's Udaipur, literally "City of the Rising Sun," a famed heritage-rich desert oasis and capitol of India's most respected princely state.

Leading Characters
Besides great Indian folk dance virtuosos, the film stars the Vanaver Caravan, a US troupe renowned for wild eclectic excellence that spans a score of cultures and births fresh miracles on stage.

Besides prize-winning performances, the Vanaver Caravan is best known for its work in schools introducing exhilarating folk dance training as the high road to personal growth, creative teamwork and intercultural empathy.

Inspirational Exchange
VC members will divide their Udaipur time between public performances, workshops in local schools, creative work with Indian masters, and inaugurating a global dance school for needy local kids.

Instigating an Academy
The school/shrine VC is helping launch, staff and publicize is the Shakti Dance Academy (SDA), an innovative energy arts project in the heart of Udaipur's most beautiful heritage zone.

We are all working to organize SDA as a literal magnet school to attract and empower youth blessed with natural dance talent regardless of their caste, class or means.

One goal is to equip a new generation of dancers from traditional backgrounds to take their heritage to new creative heights. Another is to nurture viable performance talent in kids who face few other options in life. Besides artistic training, the SDA will also assist and endow its students with self-promotion, production and management skills.

The Shakti Dance Academy will also incubate its own dance troupe(s); produce its own shows, tours and media; and become a self-sustaining non-profit enterprise within three years.

SDA Curriculum Concepts
The Shakti Dance Academy will train both street kids and classical adepts in creative footwork, bodywork, improvisation and choreography. It also will let them teach each other and use the internet to co-create with other dancers abroad.

SDA's educational objectives are to uncover and ignite each student's unique talents and enrich their expressiveness with outstanding skills and tools. 

Our footwork training will thus encompass kathak, tap and gypsy flamenco; bodywork will move through meditation, yoga and acrobatics to break dance, Capoeira, and Kalaripayattu. (Some people sharply distinguish between therapeutic bodywork that heals and artistic bodywork that inspires. We don't. In fact, we hope to "con-fuse" the two so completely they are very hard to tell apart.)

Some classes will be taught directly by local and foreign masters; others will be live wall-projected internet collaborations with teachers and groups around the world.

Down-to-Earth Facilities
The "academy" itself will simply be a big lovely tent, a fine dance floor, lots of mirrors and a projector/camera setup for internet interchange. The tent reflects the school's focus on energy instead of structure; is inexpensive to erect and replicate; and can be easily opened to audiences seated outside and the energies of the natural world.

Enduring Project Impact
The Vanaver Caravan's tour only lasts two weeks, but they will leave two brilliant young members in Udaipur for four months to study gypsy, Sufi and tribal traditions; and help train local teachers in foreign idioms like tap and flamenco as well as improvisation, choreography and stage craft.

They will also help develop Udaipur's first celebration of International Dance Day, April 29, 2012

Creating Reality with Film
"Helping Shakti Rise" will document all the Vanaver Caravan's Indian adventures including their interactions with local folk dance masters and the work of those who stay behind to train teachers, recruit students, and dance the school into life.

The film will also introduce many indigenous dance prodigies who are venerated at India's festivals but still unknown in the West. It will capture both their art and voices in a unique workshop/forum on "Dance Energy, Synergy & Epiphany" catalyzed by the Vanaver team.

Shooting will conclude on UNESCO's International Dance Day on April 29th, which, thanks largely to this project, Udaipur kids will be celebrating for the very first time. Post-production should be finished by September and we will release the film to dance schools, film festivals and public television in the fall.

Behind the Camera
The film team will be led by the legendary Argentinean sculptor, opera designer and Indophile filmmaker, Pepe Ozan. Pepe's recent art-intensive documentaries include Ganga Ma: A Pilgrimage to the Source, Jaisalmer Ayo: Gateway of the Gypsies, and a still unreleased work on Hindu mysticism and thought.

The Unpretentious Bottom Line
Since everyone involved has volunteered to work for token wages, the budget for the whole extravaganza -- film, tour, festival workshop, and dance school teacher training -- is only about $60,000. We need and pray for nearly half of that from the dance loving community and hope that you will reach out and lend a hand. As noted above, any donations above the sought amount will be devoted to need-based scholarships and expanding collaboration in the developing world.

Payback and Tax Exemptions
Project supporters will receive cool premiums, superb karma, and tax exemptions via our 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor if you so desire. Everyone will also get subscriptions to Shakti Rising, our internet news service on the project's evolution, new teaching methods, and creative works.

The "Helping Shakti Rise" project budget, SDA school overview, and other BMCT exploits are viewable here, here and here.

Your assistance is deeply appreciated.

Larger contributions can qualify for tax exemptions via our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor Center for Ethics in Action. Please contact us This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for details.

We even offer
Cool Premiums!

Donate $5 or more

And receive splendid karma and a subscription to "Shakti Rising," our newsletter tracking the progress of the film, exchange program and resulting school. Every dollar counts.

Donate $10 or more

Besides the above, you also get insider access to "Udaipur Shakti Works," our private online photo journal and development blog for people involved in all aspects of the project

Donate $25 or more

Besides everything above (BEA), you get a pre-release digital download of the “Helping Shakti Rise” film to watch anywhere and share with friends.

Donate $50 or more

Besides everything above (BEA), your name is enshrined in film, lights and student memories. We shall gratefully credit you at the end of the film, on our website, and on a permanent plaque at the school.

Donate $80 or more

BEA, you receive your very own personal DVD of “Helping Shakti Rise” to add to your library or give as a gift!

Donate $100 or more

You receive three framable Rajasthani folk dance photos and a vivid “Helping Shakti Rise” poster signed by Indian dancers and the Vanaver Caravan crew.

Donate $125 or more

You receive a striking organic “Helping Shakti Rise” T-Shirt to wear with pride for your role in this adventure.

Donate $150 or more

You receive your choice of Pepe Ozan's beautiful award-winning films "Ganga Ma - A Journey to the Source" or "Jaisalmer Ayo! Gateway of the Gypsies" in DVD form.

Donate $300 or more

BEA, you receive a limited edition Director's Cut of the “Helping Shakti Rise” DVD, including special features like the VC-inspired Utsav dance energy workshop, interviews with Indian folk dance virtuosos, and extra footage of local gypsy and Sufi masters.

Donate $500 or more

BEA, you become an honored patron of one of Shakti's scholarship students who will write and send video clips each semester to show you how he/she is progressing thanks to your support. You also get a commemorative “Helping Shakti Rise” photo album documenting the adventure and two additional copies of the “Helping Shakti Rise” DVD for family and friends.

Donate $1,000 or more

BEA, you become a Founding Sponsor of the Shakti Dance Academy and your picture and message will be prominently enshrined in the entry to the school.

Donate $1,500 or more

BEA, you are named an Official Angel of the Vanaver Caravan and receive two free passes to all their North American performances for the next two years.

Donate $2,500 or more

BEA, you will be invited to the “Helping Shakti Rise” VIP screen debut in NYC and sponsor reception afterwards. See the film before anyone else, meet the dancers and the filmmakers, and get grateful video messages from kids auditioning for the school.

Donate $5,000 or more

BEA, you become an Associate Producer of “Helping Shakti Rise” and are credited as such in the titles. You are now fully implicated and invited to join the school project advisory board, participate in online meetings, and contribute ideas to develop the school model and reach more kids.

Donate $10,000 or more

Limited Reward (6 of 6 remaining)

BEA, you become a credited Executive Producer of “Helping Shakti Rise” and receive tickets and accommodation to accompany the Vanaver Caravan's entire "Passage to India" tour. You will see footage before anyone else and your opinion will be heard. We will also be invited to accompany us to the film's regional premieres as well as film festivals around the globe (travel expenses not included). You will become a real partner and we will enlist your thoughts and views throughout the project's evolution.