• Colonialism does strange things to a culture. Ignoring one’s own indigenous “ordinary” culture, and blindly imitating others’ “legitimate” culture is one of them. It takes years and a lot of efforts before a culture realizes its self-worth during the post-colonial journey. At present, urban culture in India and Indian diaspora around the world is undergoing […]

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  •  What is guqin? The guqin, a seven-stringed zither, is China’s oldest stringed instrument with a documented history of about 3,000 years. It became part of a tradition cultivated by Chinese scholars and literati and has been associated with philosophers, sages, and emperors since the time of Confucius. Perhaps because of this illustrious history, following the […]

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  • What is kathak? Kathak is a unique dance form which incorporates rhythmic virtuosity, compelling storytelling, poetry, recitation, song, swift and subtle movement, and a rich philosophy whose roots extend thousands of years. In 1992, I enrolled in a Kathak class at SFSU with world-renowned master, Pandit Chitresh Das. Little did I know the vast ocean […]

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  • For me, dancing is both a sacred and spiritual act. I was reminded of that as I sat and listened to the recently selected Performing Diaspora (PD) artists discuss there work during their orientation meeting here at CounterPULSE (CP) a few weeks ago (I am intern at CP for the summer).  As I sat there […]

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  • A Cambodian classical dancer, when practicing her moving meditation developed over a thousand years ago as a ritual prayer, displays a serpentine grace that is hypnotic and sublime. Her form is supple, her gestures fluid, and she floats in curvilinear paths across the stage. This is no coincidence as the serpent – moving like the waters that bring fertility and sustenance to the land, bridge between heaven and earth, the being in which the first “Cambodian” sovereign took form (in one creation story anyways) – was worshiped prevalently throughout what is now Cambodia before the introduction of major religions. And today, after many generations of refinement, the serpent can still be seen in this highly stylized art form: its scales transformed into a costume’s detail and its function assumed by a human dancer.

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  • While most know of Obeah in Jamaica, few know its counterpoint, Myal. An Entry in Jamaica Talk: Three Hundred years of the English Language in Jamaica by Frederic G. Cassidy ( MacMillian Caribbean, 1961), we get one notation: “Obeah, the Jamaican form of sorcery or `black magic’, [sic] was once counterbalanced by myal, or `white […]

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