Walking on the Shady Side of the Street.

I have no idea if the “Sunny Side of the Street” was a metaphor for an optimistic outlook on life prior to the 1930’s song that was covered well into the 1940’s by great singers/musicians like Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong, to name a few. There is a lyric that explains “I used to walk in the shade with my blues on parade…”, but as a child I was puzzled why walking in the hot sun was preferable to the cooling shade of lush greenery, especially when there was a cooling ocean breeze that might have made its way into the heart of a big city like Kingston. Mumbai continues to transport me back to my childhood, and crossing to the shady side of the street on my daily commute to/from studios or out on errands has become reflex for me. It is actually a reflection that I am less distracted by the anticipation of why I am headed to my destination than being aware of my surroundings in the moment.
As I have mentioned before, in my neighborhood there is a preference for walking i…

The Chaos of Being in the Moment.

I have wanted to get an entry out, but life has had other plans for me. So I will try to post something now, and hopefully get to more depth of thought soon. Of late, life seems analogous to waiting on the ocean surface for wave sets to come in where my heavy workloads are the surf-worthy waves, and my lighter daily routines are the intervals between wave “sets.” Each set may have a similar number of good waves to surf and catch a ride, but every wave is different, and the intervals between sets of waves can vary wildly.
The weekend before last, I was invited to the wedding of a Navdhara dancer’s sister, which I am told followed mostly South Indian traditions. It was a good opportunity to see how my wearing a kurta would both feel and be received in public. When I went shopping for a more formal style of kurta than the ones I owned from my last visit to India, I was caught off-guard when I looked in the mirror, and thought “how Chinese” I look in the short vertical collars and the dra…

Death, Life and Art.

This week in particular, I have come to think of Art as giving humanity a perspective beyond the binary of the living and the dead in a way that does not demand blind faith. Philosophically, Homo Sapiens have struggled with the fact that we have developed language and reasoning beyond daily survival and the biological needs that we have classified as emotions. Seeing dance performed live by accomplished dancers in work by skilled choreographers can transcend the experience of witnessing a piece of theatre, and cannot be easily explained in words. For me, Art can transport me out of a physical reality of awareness of where I might be sitting or standing, but for this to happen, I have noticed that there are a confluence of externalities that contribute to such transcendence.
In a unique Indo-Polish dance performance at the Royal Opera House in Mumbai, the Navdhara India Dance Theatre and Zawirowania Dance Theatre from Poland presented a collaborative show of shared choreographic voices …

A Foreigner in India for Diwali!

Diwali is described online as a five day Hindu festival celebrating the spiritual “victory” of light over darkness… And as I suspected, my regularly scheduled classes were either suspended, or sparingly attended by students who did not take time off to travel home to spend the festival with family. As the foreigner, I was actually relieved to not be invited to familial events as the additional time I had to myself was very much needed for rest and preparation for the “community” workshops and a major presentation I had to conduct. Most of my friends in, and from, the USA were focused on the midterm elections. And this was my first experience voting with an absentee ballot as a US citizen living abroad. I posted a note on Facebook as I drove by the US Embassy in Delhi where I had performed with the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 1997, before I was a US citizen. There is something absurdly surreal about trying to keep up with politics in the USA while living in India and being immersed in …

Can You Tell Where You Are In The Dark?

This week was Halloween in the USA and el Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, and Facebook posts were my only clue. The first was when the Taylor Company posted an old shot of me as “Baron Samedi” from the last two Taylor dances in which I originated a role. Fittingly, I will start this post with an anecdote about my mis-adventures in Delhi. I have mentioned that I am staying in a residential development in Gurgaon which is south of Delhi. Well I recently found out that the gates into the development are locked at midnight, and once I traverse the five minute walk along unpaved, unlit roads, I still have to call the building supervisor, Pradip, to be let in. Fortunately, he lives in the building, and seems reasonably good natured about dealing with my late arrivals. Last Saturday around 11:00pm, I used Uber to get back to Gurgaon from Delhi, which takes about 45 minutes without traffic. That night the car’s engine shut down just as we entered a highway, and it would not restart (speaking fr…

The Good, The Bad, the Binge and Karma

Okay, it is Wednesday here in India, and the past week has been filled with some pretty good stories. I met with and connected with fascinating people, realized that my teaching is evolving in response to the culture and the students in my classes, visited previously “un-thought-of” places new to me that are centuries old, and discovered a few answers to questions I did not realize I should have been asking. At the same time, I feel like I’m falling behind on a couple of fronts, one is getting this week’s blog post done and the other is my intent to learn a little Hindi. I know there is no imperative on either count, but they have helped me anchor my perspective of time and context during this adventure. By the way, my definition of an adventure is when you find yourself wondering to yourself, “what the #@$% were you thinking that landed you where you are?!!” Only to follow up with a great anecdote-tale retelling afterwards!
Then of course there is the challenge to balance my energies o…