Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 35: Folk Dancing Across Divides

Say you had to make an interactive media map of South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka). Seemingly simple...

Here's the catch: instead of using city names and state names or statistics on religiously affiliated areas or ethnic boundaries to identify locations on your map, you have to use folk dance/music as your identifier. What would you find?

You'd most likely find a clear and heart-warming continuity of dance and music forms across political borders, joyful and expressive dances that reveal far more commonalities than differences amongst local cultures. You'd find that the bhangra danced in Amritsar, India is the same bhangra danced across the "divide" in Lahore, Pakistan. You'd find that Sindhi dances on one side are the same as Rajasthani dances on the other (and occur in the same Thar desert, separated only by a political border).

Such an interactive media map would then show you the undeniable fact that borders and divisions made by power-hungry or isolationist politicians throughout the centuries mean nothing when we look at human beings at some of their happiest moments: when they dance and sing out of pure joy.

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