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Dancing before Lady Liberty
Hundreds had gathered near New York harbour to watch the Erasing Borders Outdoor Dance Festival but there was an Audience of One who must have truly appreciated the lively tableaux that passed before her eyes – Lady Liberty.
Indeed, the Statue of Liberty has seen it all, the abandoned, the political refugees, the dreamers, the wanna-bes, the huddled masses – but here was a joyous rainbow of colors, of bright-eyed dancers celebrating their ancient culture, their aspirations and the diversity of America.
What could better signify freedom, equality and immigration than Bhangra dancers seeming simultaneously to leap into the sky and the water as their feet left the ground to the joyous explosion of dhols? Very far from the mustard fields of the Punjab but boldly sharing their culture with America and proclaiming that it is part of American culture now!
The IAAC’s Erasing Borders Dance festival was part of the week-long Battery Dance Festival at the Robert. F. Wagner J. Park and this amazing stage open to the water and the sky was really breath-taking. This event happened on India’s Independence Day so it made it all even more symbolic with dances of all parts of the country from Kathak to Bharat Natyam to Mohiniatam to Bhangra to Chhau, with a diverse crowd that embraced it all.
Check out Rakesh Sai Babu in his saffron dhoti leaping into the skies as he performs Mayurbhanj Chhau – could the waterfront of NYC ever have seen such a stunning spectacle?
Indeed to watch Sonali Skandan and her Jiva dancers so close to the water must have been like seeing mermaids emerge from the water and become goddesses of the land. Delicate yet strong, these sculptural dancers must have been like an apparition for the tourists passing on yachts and launch boats, an unplanned bonus of sightseeing in America.
And always, always in the background, there was the iconic statue of Lady Liberty watching the America of today.
What a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon! For those who missed the outdoor event, the high drama is now moving indoors to the Schimmel Center for the Performing Arts at Pace University on August 28th. The Event is An Evening of Poetry, Danced. More details at The IAAC Erasing Borders Festival of Indian Dance
Meanwhile enjoy this gorgeous photo blog and a lazy summer afternoon when music and dance and yes, happiness came together in a sunny explosion on the Hudson.
Photo Blog of Indian Dance in New York
All photos by Darial Sneed – “Copyright 2015 Darial Sneed. Photos may be used only with permission”