- Help Us Film an India Dance Odyssey to Unveil Masters,
Spark East/West Synergy and Launch a Unique New School
Create and fund one inexpensive project that simultaneously kickstarts a beautiful film, an unprecedented intercultural dance exchange, and a shrine to the body electric in India's most romantic realm.
We, the Big Medicine Charitable Trust (BMCT), do eco-social education work in Udaipur, Rajasthan where we want to build a new kind of local/global dance school that sustains traditions, provokes innovation and offers gifted needy kids the best dance skills of the world.
New York's internationally acclaimed Vanaver Caravan (VC) dance troupe offered to come and assist us; and then Udaipur's Shilpgram Utsav, India's biggest, coolest folk art festival, asked them to perform in their Grand Finale. VC is the first international group they have ever invited and they don't yet have a budget for foreign artists so they asked for our help. We thought a movie about VC's odyssey, their interaction with India's own virtuoso artists, and their helping develop a unique new dance academy would be immensely photogenic, educational and inspiring as well.
We are therefore seeking $60,000 to create "Helping Shakti Rise" a film that will enable and record the journey of a dozen western dance virtuosos to star in India's greatest folk festival, conspire with local masters, and help launch a world-class dance school for gifted Rajasthani youth.
The destination and setting is Udaipur, Rajasthan, literally "City of the Rising Sun," a famed heritage-rich desert oasis and capitol of India's noblest princely state.
The dancers are the Vanaver Caravan, a US troupe renowned for wild eclectic excellence that spans a score of cultures and births fresh epiphanies on stage.
VC is also the first foreign group ever invited to appear in any of India's regional folk festivals, let alone star in the grand finale of Shilpgram Utsav, the nation's biggest folk art celebration.
VC members will divide their Udaipur time between public performances, creative work with gypsy, Sufi and kathak masters, and inaugurating a global dance school for needy local kids.
Besides its prize-winning performances, the Vanaver Caravan is best known for its work in schools introducing upbeat folk dance training as the high road to personal growth, creative teamwork and intercultural empathy.
Enduring VC Impact
The VC tour only lasts two weeks, but they will leave two 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.
Instigating an Academy
The school/shrine VC is helping launch, staff and publicize is the Shakti Dance Academy, an innovative energy arts project in the heart of Udaipur's most beautiful heritage zone.
Udaipur's Big Medicine Charitable Trust is organizing 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 dance professionals who arise 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 them with 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
SDA 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, but also to fire their imaginations and enrich their expressiveness with outstanding skills and tools.
Footwork will thus encompass kathak, tap and gypsy flamenco; bodywork will move through meditation, yoga and acrobatics to break dance, Capoeira, and Kalaripayattu.
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.
The "academy" itself will simply be a fine dance floor in a big airy tent with lots of mirrors and a projector/camera setup for internet connectivity. The tent reflects the school's gypsy theme, is inexpensive to erect and replicate, and can be easily opened to audience view and the energies of the natural world.
Creating Reality with Film
"Helping Shakti Rise" will document the Vanaver Caravan's Indian adventures including those who stay behind to train teachers, recruit students, and dance the school into life.
The film will also introduce many Indian dance prodigies who are venerated at these festivals but still unknown in the West. It will capture both their art and voices as they gather for a unique workshop/forum on "Dance Energy, Synergy & Epiphany" catalyzed and co-hosted by the Vanaver team.
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 has volunteered to work for token wages, the budget for the whole extravaganza -- film, tour, festival workshop, and dance school teacher training -- is only $60,000. (See full budget here.)
Project supporters will receive cool premiums, superb karma, and tax exemptions via the Vanaver Caravan's 501(c)(3) if they so desire.
Depending on contribution levels, premiums will include photographs, t-shirts, Vanaver Caravan DVDs, DVD copies of Pepe Ozan's films, other performance videos of VC members, copies of "Helping Shakti Rise", credits in the film, etc.
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