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!"