On my recent trip to India and Nepal I took a moment to remind my self and my friend Chris, who was sitting next to me on a flight from New Delhi to Kathmandu, how we were in the process of doing what we had always dreamt of doing many years before. Chris and I used to dance with the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam. As much as we loved our profession and the art form of ballet, there were days that seemed to drag on and not much was being accomplished. We both have had the travel bug all of our lives and had both moved to Europe around the same time. We also began to study photography as our travels started to take us on bigger and bigger adventures. There were many occasions we would be sitting in the rehearsal studio wishing we were on an amazing adventure in some far away place working on exciting projects. On that flight we realised how we were in India and Nepal to carry out a mission we had talked about years ago.
We were in South Asia to film a short documentary on a ballet project I have been planning for some time. I had come in contact with a variety of people around the world trying to build ballet communities in places far from the traditional capitals of western art and dance. I thought how interesting it is that people in places like India would fall in love with the same form of dance that I did growing up in the mountains of Utah. I wondered what drove them to fall in love with ballet so much that they would go to such great lengths to build schools and organise performances and fight so hard to see it being done the right way. Not some cheap commercialised knockoff that makes a quick buck and injures the dancers. So many things became clear to me that in these areas of the world even the simplest things can be difficult. Things like making your own sprung floor or making this weird saucer shaped dress called a tu tu. Ballet is already hard but there are many things those of us growing up in Western European and North American cities really take for granted. I felt I wanted to tell their stories and do what ever I can to help them build their communities and connect them to the global dance scene. I want to give these thriving communities a moment in the spotlight to tell the world all the amazing things they are doing and look at what we in the major centres of western art can do to help.
I traveled with my friend Chris to meet Ritiak Chandra, the director of newly formed Elan Ballet in New Delhi, India. I contacted Ritika a year ago asking about teaching and dancing opportunities in India and since then her story has been the driving inspiration for this project. She is a very intelligent and driven person who cares deeply about ballet and giving opportunities to the masses. Chris and I had an amazing time in New Delhi filming the pilot video with Ritika and were both amazed to see how articulate and powerful a woman she can be. I believe that this project and ballet around the world as a whole will benefit greatly from having such a person like her to champion its development.
After our time in New Delhi we planned to visit Kathmandu, Nepal. Chris was meeting his awesome wife Emily to go trekking in the Himalayas after our time filming and I wanted to revisit the city that had left such an impression on me years ago. I was very interested to see how the city was developing after the devastating earth quake in 2015. It was amazing on one hand to see how much work had been done but also how much was lost. In all the city is recovering well but it was so tragic to see how much was destroyed and how many people had lost someone close to them. The recovery is coming along but there is still a tremendous amount of work left to be done. I believed from my first visit that Nepalese people are as strong and resilient as they are kind and welcoming and I believe this country has a great future. Im very much looking forward to many more trips there in the future.
It was a hard schedule filming, talking, planning, teaching, packing, hiking, flying, driving, getting lost and battling traffic but every second was an experience to remember. We managed to fit some sleep in where we could. Now we are getting down to editing our film and developing the project so we hope to have more material out soon. Thank you so much for staying tuned and I hope you enjoy the content.