India Perspectives – Foreigners in Indian Classical Dance
This April while I was performing on a tour with ‘Rajasthan Josh’ (traditional Rajasthani folk and Sufi music) in Egypt, we performed for a private audience of the Ambassador and dignified guests at the Indian Embassy in Cairo. It was such an incredible tour for me since we were truly representing Indian culture to the Arab world – in both the International Drum and Dance Festival and the India on the Nile Festival. As I was leaving the Embassy, to my surprise, I spotted a picture of myself on the cover of a magazine with all Arabic text. It was an Indian Embassy publication – India Perspectives.
India Perspectives magazine describes their publication as follows:
The flagship magazine of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, India Perspectives, is printed in 14 languages and goes to 170 countries, disseminating interesting information about India’s rich culture and tradition. (India Perspectives Website: http://www.indiaperspectives.in)
Article link on international classical Indian dancers:
The article that related to my cover image was a spotlight on foreigners who have settled in India, trained in classical Indian Dance and now continue promoting Indian Classical culture to the world. It says:
“Art knows no boundaries…. These foreign dancers are no longer just curios spectators, but they have mastered the art to such precision, that their perfect body movement, finesse and facial expressions have left the audience spellbound.”
I’m not sure that I can humbly accept the words of having “mastered my art”, but I do know that I am utterly proud to represent Indian culture!
I’m so happy to know that Indian media is beginning to accept those of us who have immigrated to this country to immerse ourselves in the glorious artistic traditions as whole hearted ambassadors. Many of us who have dedicated our lives to classical dance wish to represent nothing but the highest of Indian culture and the invaluable traditions of art. We come from cities and countries that have sold out culture for capitalism and ‘convenience’, it is for this reason we have travelled so far to reconnect with culture that holds timeless values and aesthetics.
Anyone who lives as an immigrant can relate to the often difficult moments of feeling hopelessly like an outsider in a place you call ‘home’. Starting a life in India has been nothing short of painful at moments, but what I have discovered in this lifetime through the careful teachings of my Gurus is beyond any cultural boundary and worth any degree of awkwardness that has been tolerated. Richness in the human experience is what I am searching for, and Indian art is the one who has revealed the deepest spiritual beauty to me. It is for this reason India is now my home as I continue to uncover the mystery.
I offer my deepest pranams (reverence and respect) to the masters of these great dance lineages that have flourished in India that have attracted the most sincerest seekers of art from all over the planet.
For those who have to take a frightening leap of faith to get to the starting place of your goals… I wish you luck and encourage you to not let any obstacle obstruct you from the intuitive voice of the heart.