Mudra Dance Studio’s “Gyaan” deserves to be seen at the Kennedy Center and other national venues

mudra-gyaan

“Gyaan” is not your typical showcase of energetic classical and contemporary Indian dance, which Mudra Dance Studio has become known for. It is, but it’s much more too.

The stage at the Lakewood Cultural Center, where Mudra has hosted many of its elaborate, every-other-year professionally-produced shows in the past decade, is partially filled with a backdrop of boxed-in platforms that serve as bandstands for the musicians. The boxes are white before the show, but once the house lights dim, they become three-dimensional screens for a complex visual interplay of videos that help tell the story that’s primarily told through dance in the front part of the stage.

This 3D multimedia richness is just one of the factors that sets “Gyaan” apart from a typical community dance recital, and even a level higher than Mudra’s typically impressive Indian showcases. It was so expensive to produce that the group launched a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for the production (it was only for a small fraction of the cost).

With “Gyaan” — Sanskrit for “knowledge through experience” — Mudra founder Namita Khanna Nariani has a message she wants the audience to absorb: that in today’s world of violence and tragedy, people have to come together and support each other. It seems trite to say it, but this show is about how love and community and art can save us all.
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This powerful short documentary about caregiving needs to be seen by every Asian American

I’m a baby boomer, so I’m already an AARP member. If you’re not familiar with AARP, people make fun of the non-profit organization as a national group for old people, like grandpas and grandmas. People who aren’t members feign shock when AARP is mentioned and joke about how they’re too young and dread getting the promotional mail from the organization when they approach 50, which is when you qualify to be a member. A lot of people I know who are even over 50 joke about how they’re in denial and won’t consider joining AARP.

They should, though. It’s a pretty huge, pretty amazing organization, and since as of this year, every Baby Boomer (the boom ran from 1946-1964) is 50+, it’s an organization that’s not just for “seniors” or “elderly.”
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How are Asian Americans reacting to the news from Ferguson?

One of the few times I heard a reference to Ferguson was in this panel: from left, Hansi Lo Wang (NPR),  Shefali S. Kulkarni (PRI), Ernabel Demillo (CUNY-TV), Emil Guillermo (AALDEF) and moderator Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man).

One of the few times I heard a reference to Ferguson was in this panel: from left, Hansi Lo Wang (NPR), Shefali S. Kulkarni (PRI), Ernabel Demillo (CUNY-TV), Emil Guillermo (AALDEF) and moderator Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man).

I just got back from a week in Washington, D.C. attending the Asian American Journalists Association’s annual convention. I sat in on a lot of interesting (and some not-so-interesting) sessions about social media and journalism, issues in the Asian Amwrican Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, and lots of other current topics in the news.

But one topic was barely mentioned as part of the panel discussions: The death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed African American man who was shot by a local police officer in the small town of Ferguson Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

He was killed on August 9, and for the next week – during the AAJA convention – the tension in Ferguson between protesters and law enforcement has been front and center in the news.
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