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Ancient dance in the himalaya has been overlooked by almost everyone, from art scholars to governments. As such, it provides a virgin field for appreciation that is virtually unrivalled. Very little is known even of its most popular form, that of Tibetan Buddhism. Dance proved for me to be a unique passport to troubled areas. Everybody loves dance. Doors flung open.
Many of these dance and ritual forms are threatened with extinction due to forces including ignorance, rural poverty, unchecked and irrelevant commercial development, and most of all, lack of any organized body to take up the cause of ancient dancing.
It was my experience that in nearly every case I examined, the categorization of a community, ie, "Buddhist", "Muslim", or "Balti" possessed a dance form much older than the appellation. Dance is the neglected bedrock of all cultures in the himalaya, perhaps the deepest core of cultural DNA. The himalaya are a treasure trove of dance, to be understood as of living ancient code of wisdom, pattern, aesthetics and energy.
The Lamayuru experience validated the merit of one individual's efforts in one year's time to make a quantum improvement in the condition of an ancient form. The outside specialist attention itself prompts pride and renewed appreciation among practitioners. The proposition of Bhaktapur as a home for ancient dances is thrilling. It provides an almost giddy civilizational platform to present to the world cultural remnants truly ancient, truly rare, and truly alive.
What more could someone such as myself dream of? How satisfying, that my unusual set of skills and contacts should be so relevant at this time. How important, to introduce the idea of intangible cultural assets to a poor area of the world so rich in these treasures, but which has never looked at them that way. How appropriate, to bring the best of non-invasive new technologies to the preservation of ancient artforms.
Finally, a word of thanks to the Asian Cultural Council, Jeffrey R Costello, and the October Gallery for believing in my work. I ask you each , in light of your many other cultural investments, to weigh the return of what small amounts were invested in me. I am proud of my work, which was empowered immeasurably by my associate and cameraman Gerard Houghton. I do not envision any future work without him. Together, we were frugal, adventurous, reliable, articulate and left people everywhere we went more hopeful about their futures.
I hope you will all support my ongoing work with your ongoing advice, direction and funds. I hope I have lived up to your expectations. I have exceeded my own.
back three: Tantric Dance Filming of Great Dance Festival, Lamayuru
back two: Preliminary Dance Research in Pakistan; Lahore, Karachi
back: Planning a Festival of Ancient Dance Bhaktapur, Nepal
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