Dancing with the Goddess: the Ras-Garba Traditions of Gujarat, India (Preview)
Producer and Director: Purnima Shah, Associate Professor of the Practice of Dance.
'Dancing with the Goddess' is an ethnographic film focusing on the religious performative traditions of Goddess worship in Gujarat, India with particular attention to the Ras and Garba dances performed during the religious festival Navaratri. Garba is a circle dance signifying the eternity or circle of life and performed by women on auspicious occasions including women's vows, ritual worship, wedding ceremonies, and pregnancies and hence identified as a religio-cultural heritage. In the last few decades, however, the impact of globalization, industrialization, urban sprawl and the proliferation of commercial media has spawned a diminution of religious practices of the garba on the one hand and an increasing popularity of the 'modernized' secular versions of the dance on the other, giving rise to new forms such as the disco-garba. The film exemplifies these transformations and questions the ramifications pertaining to the survival of the obscured symbolic meanings and religious connections of this performative genre with ancient traditions of Goddess worship in Gujarat.
(Above)With funds received from the Duke University Arts Council, Assistant Professor of Dance, Andrea E. Woods Valdés was awarded a Collaboration Development grant with which she organized three Rueda de Casino dance workshops with guest percussionist/choreographer, Vladimir Espinosa. With additional Dance Program funds from Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the final workshop featured live salsa music by members of Western Mambo, directed by César Oviedo. Woods Valdés will also collaborate with Espinosa to create new choreography for repertory students to perform on the Duke Dance Program spring concert, Choreolab, April 21@8PM, and April 22@3PM, in Reynolds Industries Theater, Duke West Campus
(Above) An open rehearsal of Andrea E. Woods' Modern Dance Repertory class at Duke University on Oct. 20, 2011, with special guest Randy Weston. The student dancers are preparing Woods' new piece "This Is What I Heard...," choreographed to Weston's music. It will premier on Nov. 11, 2011 as part of the Duke Dance Program's November Dances.
Anna Lipkin (above), of the Duke University Dance Program, performs an original dance to Philip Boulding's song "Nightside." The dance was part of the National Public Gardens Day celebration at Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University in Durham, N.C. Anna developed her piece as part of her course work in Dance 135S, Dance Composition, taught by Prof. Andrea Woods Valdés.