The Second Shakti Caravan Tour Begins Today!

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Livia and Bill arrived home only last week, and already Samantha & Brian Lawton, and Joel Hanna are heading off to India to complete our second Shakti Caravan Tour of 2018. 

They will be teaching at the Happy Hours School in Jodphur, Rajasthan, and then dividing up: Sam & Brian to Mumbai, to get involved in the burgeoning Lindy Hop community there. And Joel, to our home city, Udaipur, to run the third consecutive Fighting for Change program (which teaches free self-defense and martial arts courses for women & girls of any age). 

Stay updates and don't forget to follow us on social media!

We wish you three love, joy, and strength on your journey! 

Homeward Bound

Words from Livia

Gathering of Shakti Caravan in Udaipur

Last night Nirmal at Mewar Foodies prepared a sumptuous meal for over 25 members of Shaki Caravan.  This was our way of thanking those that could join us for our final evening of this journey. 

That gathering included  our partners: David and Rita/ founders and directors of Big Medicine Charitable Trust and Shakti Academy, Vijay Lakshmi and her family, Sayari, Sheru and their family and ALL  their amazing  musicians who just finished performing at the Leela Palace Hotel, Manish Jain and family and friends from Delhi, and Laxshmi and friends (with whom we just spent the afternoon at Suk Devi, the Rooster Temple  at an invigorating festival mobbed with people dancing and crawling under the entrance way to the statue.  Bill and I were welcomed so warmly and danced for a long time with the participants...very different experience than our previous visit to this quiet, remote temple).

It was a very long table outdoors 3/4 of the way surrounded by the lakes and this beautiful cityscape and a half moon and stars in the sky. After dinner we put our chairs in a circle, thanked each other for being together and continuing to work towards creating an arts and healing center on Shaktipur and also the traveling version of our ShaktiCaravan work in villages and schools.

Starting our long journey home.....

For those of you who have been following us, thank you for being with us on this amazing journey.  Truly filled with gratitude and the feeling of hospitality and inner potential that India has to offer.  Bringing that energy back with us now.

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Celebrating International Women's Day, internationally.

 Women of Kuyliapalium, outside of Auroville, Pondicherry, India.

Women of Kuyliapalium, outside of Auroville, Pondicherry, India.

Words from Livia:

"Last Friday, we were walking through town, back to where we stay in New Creation when Nava, the second grade teacher, came running out of one of the houses.  "Come in and meet my friend, Malika. We have an idea. You do such beautiful work with our children. Now we would like you to create a dance for the women of the village to perform on March 11th when we will have the Women's Day celebration on the Sports Field."

I agreed to come on Monday and Thursday eves to practice and see what was possible.  I really didn't know what to expect or who would show up. On Monday, Bill and I arrived at 5:30 and only Nava and Mala were there. By 6:00pm there were 60 women from the village who showed up outdoors in front of the Dental Center to rehearse for International Women's Day, and they kept pouring in.  Someone brought in large tarps to cover the dirt ground on which to dance and we all sat down to meet and share ideas.

I asked them...."What does it mean to be a woman? What are the qualities of being a woman that we  can celebrate in our dance?"

"Women are strong and powerful, " they said. "Women can do anything they set their minds to do.  They can be educated. They are loving and kind.  They are good mothers and workers and do important work. Women are divine."

Nava translated everything  back and forth in Tamil and English. I had an idea that we create an opening dance with handfuls of flower petals, like an invocation.  The light of day was diminishing as we now crammed into two single lines on either side of the space. I used familiar steps that were simple and a Tamil song that many of them knew to honor Ganesh, the god who is the remover of all obstacles. They sang as they danced, forming two huge circles and then strewing their flowers two by two until they reformed into a huge semi circle.  The faster music began. 

I have the hardest time keeping choreography simple. With so many women who were multi-generational and enthusiastic non-trained dancers creating together in the waning daylight, this was necessary! I was inspired by their list of attributes.  I organized those qualities in a sequence  and we created a movement for each one, repeating each movement four times.  The last movement ended in a namashkarum (palms together in anjali mudra). I was so taken with their beauty and the true power of their energy moving together, the young mothers and elders dancing together.   

Evidently there are many women's groups in Kuyliapalium.  Nava and Mala who teach the second grade at Aikiyam School where we have been working, helped to organize the group women with whom we met. They will present these dances tomorrow on the Savitri sports field in Auroville.  So happy to help be a connector between  Auroville and this beautiful bordering village community of Kuyliapaliam."


Soon after this, Livia & Bill parted ways with Gabe (who flew back to Colorado). They are now spending time in Shakti Caravan's home city, Udaipur.   

Two nights ago, they performed with Sayari Roots of Gypsy at the Leela Palace in Udaipur city. Of the experience, Livia says:

"This was probably one of the highlights of my performing life.....playing percussion with Sayari and Sheru and these as making Rajasthani musicians.  We had just called Sayari to get together and she invited us to the Leela Palace Hotel where they perform every night.  When we arrive she said, "where are your instruments?"  Luckily the Millets of Mewar Guest house was a three minute walk away so we quickly grabbed the banjo and dumbek.  I sat between the two singers and Sayari danced.  Bill played great too.  Then she asked us to play something on our own so w did the Cuckoo and I clogged barefoot on the marble stage with a touch of Rajasthani turning and using my scarf.  Pretty awesome experience.  They invited us for her sisters wedding in the desert outside of Jodhpur, where they have over 300 relatives...dancers and musicians.  That's next week!" 

 Sayari, Sheru, and the band with Livia & Bill at the Leela Palace in Udaipur City.

Sayari, Sheru, and the band with Livia & Bill at the Leela Palace in Udaipur City.

Tales from Auroville!

 Water Ceremony in Auroville, India. Part of the 50th year anniversary. 

Water Ceremony in Auroville, India. Part of the 50th year anniversary. 

Probably the most exquisite ceremony I’ve ever attended. As the 300 children descended the spiral walkway in pairs, one with a container of water from origins as disparate as they Nile, the Mediterranean, or the Hudson river, and the child following with a droplet shaped sign naming the source. The children- multinational themselves, then after having poured the multisourced water into a single unifying pool, placed their signs around the edge of the Amphitheater. All to deeply inspiring music and poetry.
— Words from Bill Vanaver, 3/3/18
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Eleven days into our India visit this year and so much has transpired. We feel blessed to have been I invited here for Auroville’s 50th birthday and the celebrations have been so moving. Connecting with the wonderful people with whom we have launched ongoing projects in a continuous building of community here in Auroville. Yesterday morning we sang This Little Light of Mine and introduced Tom Chapin’s song, “Walk the World” with all of the Aikiyam School children and Shankar, their wonderful principal. To help celebrate bringing together the many communities here in Auroville, Bill, Gabe and I were scheduled to do a concert at the Unity Pavillion. It was very relaxed and so much fun to perform as the Vanaver Family. Having Gabriel here (aka Gah-be) added a whole new dimension to our traditional folk presentation. Gabe offered two of his poignant, original songs and then got everyone up “urban folk dancing” in a cypher .....the house dancing style! Aurovillians, young and old, danced in a circle with tremendous energy. We also included Gladys Bailin’s brilliant Newspaper Dance on the program. There had been “Trashion Show” here last week with designer recycled items. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be fun to do the Newspaper Dance here?” When I realized that we knew Jill Navarre, a wonderful theatre director here in Auroville and had already worked with her actors in years past, she quickly assembled several enthusiastic people to join Gabe and myself and the three Khoji’s who came down from Udaipur to intern with us from Swaraj University. We had several rehearsals and then true to form this structured improv held the 9 of us in a fun rendition of Gladys’ timeless piece. So grateful to Devasmita for organizing this opportunity and to Julian Lines and Matagiri for helping to bring us here to Auroville.
— Words from Livia Vanaver, 3/3/18.
 Teacher, Usha, working with the students at Akiyam School. 

Teacher, Usha, working with the students at Akiyam School. 

 Gabe, Livia, and Auroville friends, performing "The Newspaper Dance" at the Unity Pavillion. 

Gabe, Livia, and Auroville friends, performing "The Newspaper Dance" at the Unity Pavillion. 

Shatki Caravan 2018 Tour begins!

It's a family reunion! Livia Vanaver, Bill Vanaver, and their youngest son, Gabriel Vanaver, fly out to Pondicherry in southern India today to teach a three week dance and music program at the Akiyam school in Auroville. The focus will be on stories and folktales from around the world, which incorporate themes of non-bias, kindness, and respect for other cultures.

Auroville itself will celebrate its 50th year anniversary this month and the Vanavers will be there to bring together the many diverse communities who make the utopia what it is. Song, dance, and celebration is sure to follow. 

After Auroville, Livia and Bill head to Udaipur, Rajasthan, to visit our Shakti Caravan founding partners at the Shakti Academy of Performing Arts and Healing. 

But that's not all! This April, Samantha, Brian, and Joel (three Vanaver Caravan Compan members and Shakti Caravan teaching artists), will be heading back to the Happy Hours School in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, to put together a large-scale world dance performance with the students there. 

Stay up to date with all things Shakti Caravan! Follow us on social media: @shakticaravan@vanaver_caravan  @sam_and_brian @_joelhanna @happy_hours_school