“Where else could a young man who grew up in an impoverished, low-caste fundamentalist Christian family in India get a degree in computer science and discover dance?”

Throughout the afternoon, I’ve been working on a grant application for the Kessinger Family Fund for Asian Performing Arts to support a performance that we hope to have in the spring by the Dakshina (Sanskrit for “offering”) dance troupe, which is an emerging dance group founded by choreographer Daniel Phoenix Singh. Dakshina is based in DC, and has been attracting a lot of attention for Singh’s fusion of traditional Bharatanatyam and Modern dance vocabularies, and for their productions of work by avant-garde choreographers such as Anna Sokolow and Darla Stanley.

The Kessinger Family Fund “sponsors musical performances and lecture-demonstrations that enrich Haverford’s cross-cultural programs….the Fund supports performances and residencies dedicated to the rich artistic heritage of South Asia, East Asia, and Indonesia, and was started by former Haverford President Tom Kessinger and his wife, Varyam” which is an amazing legacy from which to draw. Singh and his troupe exemplify the vision of the Kessinger Family Fund in some extraordinary ways; in a September 12, 2010 article for the Washington Post about emerging artists in the DC dance world, reporter Sarah Kaufman wrote: “Only in America: Where else could a young man who grew up in an impoverished, low-caste fundamentalist Christian family in India get a degree in computer science and discover dance?”

We’re asking for $5,000 toward the artists’ fees for the performance; Ethan Pan, in his capacity as the OMA liaison to the Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia (where Nancy Chen has been an inspiring force and guiding light) has been working with Jari Rizvi of the South Asian Students affinity group to raise funds for a projected performance and workshop that would take place March 16-17, 2012. Jari and his compatriots in SAS are looking to this residency as an opportunity to connect with sister groups at BMC and Swat, as well as with the South Asian community in the region. James Weissinger from the HHC has been a key figure in bringing these pieces together…which included the key work of literally collaring me in the hallway in Stokes to make sure that I got the proposal in to the office in time for the committee to review it tomorrow. Yes even deans — particularly deans — need someone to keep them on the straight and narrow, particularly if it means that we have the opportunity to bring amazing queer artists to campus.