Words from Liv:
Our three weeks in Udaipur were filled with creativity, strengthening community, and deepening relationships. Building towards ShaktiFest with David and Rita, Peace Pole planting on the Shaktipur land, learning traditional Rajasthani dance with Vijay Lakshmi (with pots on our heads!) kept us busy.
We woke to do yoga every morning at sunrise on the roof of Millets of Mewar Guest House with the VanaMoms and VanaDad Steve (who also provided the most awesome flute music for our performances). We enjoyed rehearsing and doing ballet barre with Margot at sunset on the other end of the rooftop, sunrise walks with Dr. Sareen on Fateh Sagar, eating amazing creatively and lovingly prepared organic food at Millets of Mewar restaurant overlooking Lake Pichola. We worked at a school for the blind doing percussive dance and music with Bharat and his students there.
On New Years day, we traveled to the village of Molela and performed in their first ShaktiFest Molela. We were thrilled to have tea with the Maharana and Maharani! We began to plan to teach a world dance/ global studies course at Bhopal Nobles College next semester at the request of the Maharana. We continued our planning for the future Shakti Academy of Dance and Healing Arts, dancing with the Kojis (seekers) from Swaraj at Tappovan, Shikshantur and also at Shaktipur. We love meeting new people every day who seem to all connect to the beautiful web of life in Udaipur and building towards a better more vibrant world together here.
Yesterday we got up early and Kabra-ji, our unofficial and totally essential tour manager, was there to help us pack out of the Millets of Mewar Guest House. Joel, Moo, Margot, Bill and I (and all of our instruments and baggage) packed into a car and off we went to Ahmedabad to meet Mallika Sarabhai.
We arrived at Darpana Academy, founded by her mother and now directed by Mallika, and settled down to lunch at the cafe. Very worth googling and looking at YouTube clips and learning about the amazing and ground-breaking work she and her mother have done in Indian Dance. Mallika also played the lead years ago in Peter Brooks Mahabarata production that played at The Harvey at BAM. We got a tour of Darpana and watched some classes in Bharata Natyam, as the future structure of what will be their renovated amphitheater and then it was time for Moo, Margot and Joel to drive back to Udaipur.
Joel was hoping to meet Mallika's son Revanna, as suggested by David and Rita. Oddly enough, an hour after they left, Bill and I were in the cafe and I wanted to take one of my notorious 20 minute catnaps. Bill looked around for someone to talk to and found this lovely young man eating dinner. After about 15 minutes we realized he was Mallika's son! Then her daughter came over to us and said, "I remember when you two taught a Master class/ workshop at Sarah Lawrence on the use of traditional dance and rhythms in creative work." What a small world. At 7:30 we got to see a rehearsal of their dance company in a medley of Indian folk dances. Beautiful, heartfelt and joyful. This morning we watched one of the dancers, a veteran of Mallika's company for 23 years, teach kalaripayatu, Indian martial art... amazing. Joel would have loved this too! Then I got to take a yoga class at Darpana before leaving for the airport. Meanwhile, yesterday on the way to Ahmedabad, I contacted Kashmirah Shah in the States who taught us our first Indian folk dances in 1990 and who gave us the set of beautiful Gujarati costumes that we use in our school dance residencies. Some of you may remember making the world dance videos with Kashmirah on the stage of Studley Theatre in the Old Main Building at SUNY New Paltz in the early 90's. We knew Kashmirah had grown up in Ahmedabad and wanted her advice about a place to stay. True to the warmth and hospitality we have experienced all over India, her cousin/ brother, Jaypal, met us this morning at the hotel, spent time with us and drove us to the airport to fly out to Kochi (next adventure).