Duniya has a new Marketing and Communications Intern. Welcome Nitya! Having an intern is some dope stuff. When I asked her what I should write about in my first blog entry, she wanted to know why dance is important to me. Why dance? Why the heck would anyone give up luxury, money, fancy job titles, and above all laziness and give everything to dance? Why dance? My answer, in short: Danceformation.
Dance is transformation. I am in the lucky position to see this on a daily basis. Dance makes a sad kid happy, dance makes an insecure woman feel like the bomb, dance turns violent youth into peaceful dance-makers, it turns ignorance into cross-cultural understanding and appreciation, it makes a dull life suddenly interesting. Dance turns a party you were invited to into a party you stayed at until 3 a.m.
When we created “Half and Halves,” our performance about the Punjabi-Mexican communities of California, as dancers we transformed ourselves into: devastated Punjabi women whose husbands were leaving us to come to America; Mexican and Punjabi farmers laboring in the scorching sun; subdued yet joyous guests at a wedding party; and feisty schoolgirls battling in the playground. The theater transformed from the Brava in San Francisco’s Mission District in 2010 to the Imperial Valley fields in 1906. Some audience members were so moved by the performance that they cried. Many approached me afterwards and told me they were so proud to learn of this history, or that they wanted their Punjabi parents and Mexican friends to see this important show. They were transformed.
On a personal level, I metamorphosized completely, from being insecure about my ability to pull off the show and unclear about my voice as a director and choreographer, to confident with not only my own capability but also my responsibility to do important work. I delved more deeply into compromise (which doesn’t always come easy for me) and collaboration. This experience made me more empathetic, more experimental, and more clear about direction in my career and in my life.
Dance can communicate the beauties and the cracks of the world I live in, and help create the ideal world that I hope to experience. Dance transforms everyone who touches it. So, Nitya, that’s why I dance.